When the horn sounded at the end of the third period at the Nassau Coliseum on Tuesday night, Islanders fans rejoiced as their home squad defeated the visiting Florida Panthers 5-2. The Isles skaters removed their jerseys and signed them for the lucky fans who won them as a prize at the end of the game.
Typically, this is a moment at the end of the Islanders season filled with "better luck next year's" and "thanks for supporting us as we rebuild our team." But instead, this time, fans were salivating for more as the Islanders continued to tighten their grasp on their first playoff berth in six years.
"Everyone's been telling me how loud this arena can be," said Matt Martin...
Recently, the New York Islanders have had some good luck when it comes to their prospects. More so than the prospects themselves, in certain regards. See, as their junior or college seasons have ended without huge playoff success, their professional careers have taken off.
The New York Islanders extended their best home-winning streak this season to 4 on Tuesday night by defeating the Philadelphia Flyers 4-1. The Isles, who are now 7-1-1 in their last 9 games, are now tied for 6th place in the Eastern Conference at 44 points with the Ottawa Senators.
After Michael Grabner scored the go-ahead goal towards the end the of second period, the Isles held their composure in another stellar third period effort to come out on top of the Atlantic Division's bottom club. (Photo Credit: IslesPunkFan/Flickr)
Puck drop on Long Island, where the Isles were facing the Winnipeg Jets, was followed shortly thereafter in Worcester, Mass. when the same ritual was performed to start the Sound Tigers vs. Sharks contest. Isles fans would get to see Anders Lee play his first game as a professional (historic in that it marked the first time all members of an Isles draft class, 2009, ‘made it’) while Sound Tigers fans would watch top prospect Ryan Strome (2011) make his pro debut. Neither would disappoint.
This is the year that the New York Islanders should look to be buyers at the trade deadline.
It is only just eight days away, and the Islanders presently sit with 31 points, just two shy from tying the New York Rangers for the eighth and final playoff spot with only 16 games remaining in the regular season.
Typically at this juncture, the Isles are on the verge of collapsing into the final three spots of the Eastern Conference and increasing their chances of winning the draft lottery. Although that is still a frightening scenario that can still play out for Garth Snow's squad, it is time for the Isles GM to make a statement that the rebuild is over.
Over the past few years the New York Islanders may have found consistency on the top line due largely in part to the chemistry between John Tavares and Matt Moulson. But the same cannot be said for much of the depth on offense.
That is until Casey Cizikas began centering Matt Martin and Colin McDonald.
The trio have been playing together as a fourth line, or as head coach Jack Capuano has liked calling them, "the energy line."
It took a dramatic finish, but the New York Islanders finally won a game on home ice during a Sunday matinee game, defeating the Ottawa Senators 3-2 in the shootout.
The Islanders got on the board early in the game when Brad Boyes scored his fifth of the year, beating Robin Lehner glove side under the crossbar. The play started when Matt Moulson received a pass from Mark Streit at the Senators blue line and fed Boyes the puck as he was flying up the slot.
Not long after Boyes' goal, Matt Martin was found banging bodies all over the ice. In fact Martin had 6 hits in just over 3 minutes of play during the first period. Senators enforcer Chris Neil took exception to Martin's physical play and challenged him to a fight, but Martin ignored his request and continued to take out Senators along the wall.
He finished with 11 hits on the night. Coming into the game, Martin was just one shy of tying Buffalo Sabres forward Steve Ott for the league lead of 94 hits.