Goals win hockey games; there is no question about it. But in order for the Islanders to defeat the Washington Capitals in their opening round of the playoffs, goaltender Jaroslav Halak will have to be playing at the All-Star level he was at back in February.
Halak has gone 38-17-4 on the year with a 2.43 GAA and .914 save percentage. These are all respectable numbers, especially the 38 wins, which are the most by any Islanders goaltender in team history.
But the team only went 6-8-5 over their last 20 games of the regular season. This is not to say that Halak is at fault, but many feel that he was not playing at the elite level that he was at prior to the All-Star break.
If the only good news the Islanders received Thursday night was that they picked up another big two points in Nashville, it would have been a good enough day. But the night was made a little sweeter when it was reported that forward Kyle Okposo would be joining the team in Florida for its Saturday night game against the Panthers. It is unlikely Okposo will suit up, but the idea of number 21 back in the lineup is enough to excite the Islander fans who were stunned to see him go down with injury over the All-Star Break.
It’s time for me to give the devil his due, and in this case, the devil is the general manager of the New York Islanders: Garth Snow. The much-maligned general manager has had his boisterous critics (*raises hand*) and while much of it has been well-deserving, maybe, just maybe, Snow is ready to have the last laugh.
The Jack Adams award is given out each year to the coach who is judged to have contributed the most to his team’s success in the National Hockey League. If you were to ask Isles fans about Jack Capuano’s name being thrown into the list of candidates for the award a year ago, you would have received plenty of laughs.
Despite being the next winningest coach for the Islanders after Al Arbour, Capuano had drawn the ire of the Islanders faithful for his inability to provide Nassau Coliseum ice with a winning hockey team after making the playoffs the year before.
But considering the success of the Islanders this season, it would be inconsiderate of the league to not take a look at Capuano when deciding who should be nominated for the award.
The New York Islanders played host to their former coach Peter Laviolette and the Nashville Predators, who are currently sporting the best record in the National Hockey League. But the Islanders would prevail as the best team on the ice, battling their way to a 5-2 win at Nassau Coliseum.
After struggling to find the back of the net their last two games and managing only three goals combined against Boston and Detroit, Jack Capuano has seen enough from his offense and shook up the lines again in practice today. In particular, rookie Anders Lee was promoted to the top line to play with John Tavares and Josh Bailey, a huge opportunity for Lee to keep adding to his solid rookie campaign.
The Islanders were dealt a significant blow on Tuesday afternoon when coach Jack Capunao announced that forward Kyle Okposo would miss the next six to eight weeks with an "upper body" injury. No one knows for sure what is ailing Okposo, but there were various rumors floating around Twitter of an eye injury that required surgery. There's no way to know if that is true at this point, but those rumors began several days ago, so it wouldn't be a shock if they were true.
At the end of the first half of the season (technically more), the New York Islanders have secured second place in the entire Eastern Conference, first place in the Metropolitan Division with a record of 31-14-1 & 63 points. Here at TCL, the Cappy's encapsulate what has gotten the Islanders to this point, and what will drive them towards future success & hopefully a long Stanley Cup run.
The Islanders are having themselves a season like no other in recent memory. They sit atop the division with a 3 point cushion. They are within a point of the Conference lead and don't look to be slowing down at all. With all of this coming together at the right time, their trade deadline mentality could be completely different than what we're used to.