Regardless of their unexpected success taking them into the playoffs last year, there were many areas that the Islanders needed to improve coming into the current season. The core of the team was established, but among many other things the defensive corps was a major concern and the departure of captain Mark Streit only made things worse.
The New York Islanders continued their recent strong play at the Nassau Coliseum Tuesday night as they doubled-up the Florida Panthers 4-2. The win was the Islanders third straight on home ice and improved their overall record to 30-35-10 on the year. The win also helped the Islanders stave off elimination officially for one more night as it continues play tomorrow night in Ottawa against the Senators.
The Islanders look to finish up their homestand Sunday afternoon on a high note as they take on their Metropolitan rival Columbus Blue Jackets 1pm at the Nassau Coliseum. It will be the third of four matchups as Columbus has taken the first two, including the Islanders’ home opener. In what was a sign for things to come, the Islanders blew a 2-0 third period lead before falling to Columbus in the shootout 3-2. The two met again in Columbus in November where the Blue Jackets scored three times in the third period to win 5-2. (Photo credit: paul.hadsall/flickr).
Plagued by injuries, and shorthanded by recent trades, the Isles will field a lineup consisting of many who started the season in Connecticut. This is even truer in light of Michael Grabner’s concussion. There is no time table for Grabner’s return, and in truth, it’s not likely he will play again this season. Therefore on Thursday, the Islanders recalled Johan Sundstrom from Bridgeport.
Center Ryan Strome has been returned on loan to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the AHL. Roster space had to be made with defenseman Radek Martinek returning from the IR. To put it lightly, this is another questionable move the Islanders front office has made and fans are already up in arms.
On a night that was called “the greatest night of my life” by the new first time dad Kyle Okposo, his teammate and good friend John Tavares had one of the best nights statistically of his brief NHL career.
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?