Tonight, the Islanders led most of the game. As is the norm, it was the first line of John Tavares, Thomas Vanek and Kyle Okposo who led the way.
After defenseman Thomas Hickey forced a turnover with the Pens skating into the Islanders’ zone, the Isles top line skates into the Pittsburgh zone. Tavares hits Okposo with a pass and the forward skates up the left wing. Okposo then backhands the puck on net where it ricochets off of Pitt defender Olli Maatta and past goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.
It's been repeated dozens of times before: the Islanders defense is not as good as it needs to be, and the goaltending between the pipes is a major area of concern. But what hasn't been acknowledged is that the Isles offense, which has more or less been excused, needs improvement as well (Photo credit: THEFANBLOG/Flickr).
There's no denying that Matt Carkner's play has been less than superb, and that Matt Donovan has continued to make the expected rookie mistakes. Both of these players have led to Travis Hamonic and most notably Andrew MacDonald being forced into accepting more minutes and responsibility that is perhaps too much for this duo to handle on a nightly basis.
Add that Lubomir Visnovsky's veteran leadership has been missing for quite some time now and you have every hockey pundit saying "ya think?!" when asked if the Isles defense may be one of the reasons why they have slid in the standings.
But see if you can answer this: aside from John Tavares, Kyle Okposo, Thomas Vanek (while healthy) and Frans Nielsen, where has the offense come for this team?
The New York Islanders will look to win the second game of a back-to-back trip against the Philadelphia Flyers tonight at the Wells Fargo Center.
Kevin Poulin is expected to be back between the pipes, who made some tremendous acrobatic saves against the Pittsburgh Penguins last night despite a 4-3 loss on a goal that came from Sidney Crosby in the final minute of the third period.
Defensive breakdowns would end up costing the Isles a very valuable point, as they were just a little over a minute away from overtime.
The struggling New York Islanders (7-10-3) look to turn things around tonight with Evgeni Nabokov in goal against the visiting Detroit Red Wings (9-5-6). The Red Wings, now a new Eastern Conference opponent due to the alignment change, are facing the Isles for the first time this season after a 4-3 shootout loss last night to the Washington Capitals.
The Isles, who once sat second in the Metropolitan Division, currently sit in 6th, five points behind the second place Capitals and three points behind the third place Carolina Hurricanes.
An inability to hold gain leads and/or hold them has propelled the Islanders to the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings (12th in the East) and has allowed their division rivals to surpass them.
After a winless road trip, the Islanders returned home to Nassau Coliseum on Tuesday night for their second and final meeting of the season with the Nashville Predators. The first meeting was a Predators 3-2 victory last month. Tonight a different story as the Islanders snapped their 4 game losing streak with a 3-1 victory over the Predators on home ice.
Fresh off of their impressive win against Boston on Saturday, the Islanders traveled to the nation’s capital for a battle with the Washington Capitals. It was a big day DC in a lot of ways. It was Election Day and also the return of their mayor in terms of hockey, Alex Ovechkin. The Great 8 did not disappoint.
The Isles’ continued their stingy defense from Saturday’s 3-1 win at home into the first period of this game. They carried a 1-0 lead into the 2nd period and that seemed to be the last anyone has seen of the Islanders’ defense. The Islanders should be passing flyers around that asks if anyone has seen their defense.
Where did it go? It was non existant for the remainder of this game. Nabokov was under siege and the team was outscored 5-1 from the 2nd period on.
How has Kyle Okposo's career turned that proverbial corner? Has it been the players he's been playing with, his maturation of a hockey player, or was it that one special night in May? Check out how Okposo is becoming a monster on the stat sheet this season.(flickr/Official New York Islanders)