After having an incredible first half of the season, the New York Islanders find themselves in a somewhat unfamiliar position. The Isles are losers of four of their past five, and barely scraped away with a shootout win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday.
Tonight the Isles will face the Buffalo Sabres, a team that is dwelling at the very bottom of the NHL standings and is also 2-8-0 in their last ten games played.
By all standards, this is a game that the Islanders should absolutely win. However, the Isles need to make sure history does not repeat itself.
Jaroslav Halak is a clear cut NHL all-star. If you tuned into the NHL All-Star weekend, you would have noticed that John Tavares (arguably the MVP of the game last night despite the hometown guy taking the honors) was not the only Islanders player representing the blue and orange.
Halak has gone 25-9-0 this year in 34 games played this season to go along with a 2.41 GAA and .910 save percentage. Halak’s numbers are excellent, and he has been nothing short of spectacular for the New York Islanders this season.
Chad Johnson, who was supposed to be Halak’s co-star between the pipes, has appeared more like a stunt double; he’s only played when Halak’s needed a rest and has dealt with some ugly situations.
The Islanders have already surpassed the midway point of the season, embarking on the second half of a year that is marking the end of an era for this organization.
There are currently 40 games remaining of the regular season, leaving only 24 games left to be played at the only building they have called home for the past 43 years; Nassau Coliseum.
With the off-season moves that GM Garth Snow made this summer, many predicted that the last year at the Madhouse on the Meadowbrook would be a memorable one. But it’s doubtful that many Islanders fans and hockey pundits expected the Islanders to be sitting atop the Metropolitan Division as they prepare to face their biggest rivals tonight, the New York Rangers.
Last night’s loss to the Edmonton Oilers is not one where the Islanders could skate away believing that they played their best despite an unwanted outcome. Defensive breakdowns, a few bad goals let up by Jaroslav Halak, and an inability to capitalize on scoring chances led to their 5-2 defeat.
But there is one major positive that can be taken away from a 5-2 loss on the road to a team that has had a horrible start to the season.
Another weekend, another joyous Monday. Such is the life of a New York Islander fan now.
The Islanders entered play Friday night 21-10-0, about to play the Red Wings in Detroit, the first of back to back games. The weekend would be completed Saturday night at the Nassau Coliseum against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Going into Friday night the teams were a combined 37-17-11, both firmly entrenched in a playoff spot in the Atlantic Division. Surely most Islander fans were a little nervous and would have signed up for a split of the pair in a heartbeat.
So what happened?
Oh, just a couple or regulation wins, 2-1 versus Detroit and 3-1 against Tampa Bay as the Islanders improved to 23-10-0. Ho-hum.
The NHL season will be at the halfway point before we know it, and frankly it's been a season of met expectations. Most of the top teams entering the season have performed up to the standards analysts and fans predicted, with the result that there's a rock-solid crop of teams leading the way. But who looks best suited, at this point, to win the Stanley Cup? Here's a look at the top three contenders as defined by the oddsmakers, and why each presents a legitimate Cup challenge.
Most have recognized all year that the Blackhawks are the rightful Cup favorites, though the NHL standings don't show them with any overwhelming performance to dat...
The Islanders will host the Chicago Blackhawks Saturday night at the Nassau Coliseum as they will look to snap their three-game losing streak. It will be a daunting task for the Isles against the Central Division-leading Blackhawks who bring a 20-8-1 record into tonight's matchup.
Man, it only took a couple of days to wipe out so many of the good feelings built up through the first eight weeks of the season. The question is now being asked by many: is it time for the Islanders to push the panic button?
It was only a few short days ago Islander fans and media alike were waxing poetic about the “special” season taking place over in Uniondale. The team was going to close out its time at the Nassau Coliseum with one final hoorah for the fans.
It’s good to root for the New York Islanders now. The team is humming along at 19-7-0, atop the Metropolitan Division, one point off the top of the league. Even the most optimistic of Islander fans could not have predicted this tear the team has been on. It’s been a fun two-month ride to start the season, a feeling that has been absent all too often in recent years.
While people have (rightfully) given large amounts of credit for their success to new-comers like Jaroslav Halak, Nick Leddy, and Johnny Boychuk, is it time to finally give coach Jack Capuano a little love?
Michael Grabner has been activated off the injured reserve and is close to making his debut in the Islanders line-up this season. He was seen this morning practicing with Frans Nielsen and Mikhail Grabovski, although it has yet to be confirmed if this is the line he will be playing with tomorrow night when they visit the Ottawa Senators for the second half of a home-and-home match-up.
Where Grabner would fit has come into question, given that the current line-up has done very well this season (18-7-0).