The playoffs might be further out of sight, and the reality that the Islanders aren't a playoff team has become more and more apparent with every weakening loss, but this is not the time to "fail for Nail."
Nail Yakupov is considered to be the obvious choice for the number one overall pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. The 19-year old Russian sniper scored 101 points (49 goals, 52 assists) in 65 games played for the Sarnia Sting of the OHL. He currently has 31 goals and 37 assists for 68 points for Sarnia and is a +14. The Islanders, like every other team in the NHL, could certainly benefit from having another scoring winger added to their line-up.
So why do I say that the Islanders shouldn't look to drop in the Eastern Conference standings?
It's still a long shot, but the Islanders have pulled themselves back into playoff conversations with a 1-0 win yesterday over the New Jersey Devils that has put them within five points of the last spot in the Eastern Conference. But even so, there are plenty of questions that surround the New York Islanders hockey club, ranging from the uncertain future of the arena to whether or not Tim Horton's will ever return to the concession stands. The most important questions, the ones that impact the immediate future, are the ones that need to be answered first; GM Garth Snow has to figure out where certain players will fit on his roster as the rebuild pushes forward.
I've already talked about the possibility of Evgeni Nabokov re-signing with the Islanders, as well as teammate P.A. Parenteau returning in an orange and blue sweater. But Snow will have to take a long look at some of his current regulars and decide where they fit with the team long term as some young, fresh faces are pushing for NHL jobs.
It is still a long shot, but the Islanders have once again pulled themselves into playoff conversation with a 1-0 win over the New Jersey Devils. Kyle Okposo scored the lone goal for the Isles while Anders Nilsson earned his first NHL win with a 24-save shutout performance that earned him first star honors on the night.
"Today I think all the guys out there put up a great job for me," said Nilsson. "The first two periods, I only had 12 shots and they blocked a lot of shots and when they got a shot through it was from the boards. They made it real easy for me to play out there today. They helped me out a lot."
Okposo concurred with Nilsson's belief that the Islanders played one of their best defensive games of the year, rivaling their previous defensive win over the Boston Bruins the night before.
On this edition of the prospect report I will look at two late round picks from the 2010 NHL entry draft. Jason Clark and Tony DeHart were two quiet picks from Garth Snow during the draft that bought us Nino Niederreiter and Brock Nelson.
Jason Clark was taken in the 3rd round, 82nd overall in the draft. He is currently in his sophomore season at Wisconsin, where currently this season he has been seeing limited time on the ice and having limited success. He is still looking to make the score sheet this season while playing in just 15 games so far. Last season as a freshman he saw limited time playing in only 14 games and having only 1 assist. He did have a hip problem that required surgery this past season which could be slowing him down.
The Islanders take to the ice tonight looking to respond after a tough lost last night to the Maple Leafs. Tonight will be the Islanders last chance to head into the All-Star break on a winning note. The Islanders and Maple Leafs also both look to keep playoff hopes alive with wins in tonight’s contest.
The Islanders are still only 9 points out of a playoff spot and after going out and laying a goose egg last night they need to play much better in tonight’s game. Capuano suggested that after last night’s game there could be some line-up changes. Those should be released later this morning but the only change I would truly like to see is the promotion of Nino Niederreitier and the demotion of Brian Rolston. In recent games we have all seen the improvement of play from Nino and he deserves more ice time and better line mates. In the case of Rolston, he just hasn’t played well recently and may need a demotion to find the fire he once had in his play. He is constantly missing the net on many great chances and is the cause of some turnovers. On a team that is struggling to find secondary scoring, mistakes from a veteran like that can’t happen.
The season for the New York Islanders is more than halfway over, having completed Game 46 of the 82-game season last night with a 2-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes in overtime. The win has brought the Isles to a 19-21-6 record putting them eight points out of a playoff spot behind the Washington Capitals sitting in the final, eigth spot.
As John Madonia pointed out in his post-game wrap up, these next two games against the Toronto Maple Leafs are crucial for the Islanders. For the first time in a few years, Islanders fans are able to find themselves in a position where they can start looking at the standings and sharing concerns about the success of other teams in their Conference. Two wins against the Leafs would hypothetically put the Isles at only four points out of the playoffs and see them with a .500 record.
The Isles are not in last in the Eastern Conference; they are currently out of the draft lottery; and John Tavares has emerged as an elite talent in the NHL. Part of the rebuild requires looking for signs of progress in all areas. Although those signs that are mentioned above don't necessarily amount to the hopes and dreams of most Islanders fans, they are still important. Slow and steady as she goes.
Islanders get a huge victory over the streaking Capitals tonight, winning 3-0. The Islanders came into the game looking to rebound from a bad game yesterday against Nashville and rebound is definitely what they did. The Capitals who have been hot of late looked like a tall test for the tired Islanders who played yesterday and had to travel to get to Washington.
The game started slow as neither team could keep possession of the puck in the offensive zone. One play that stood out to me during the early going of the period was Nabokov’s handling of the puck. He came out to handle the puck in front of the net, mishandled it and left a great chance for the Capitals. Thankfully for the Islanders they were unable to get a good shot on net and Nabokov was able to recover. Nabokov needs to work on his puck handling as it has become a problem as of late and has cost the Islanders goals at certain points.
The New York Islanders, at least, will have a quick turnaround after one of their worst performance’s of the season. After a dismal 3-1 loss to the Nashville Predators, the
Islanders travel to the nation’s capital to play the red hot Washington Capitals.
Washington, winners of seven straight at the Verizon Center, come into the contest off a 2-1 home victory over the Carolina Hurricanes. They haven’t trailed in a game at home since December 13th. In 22 games since Bruce Boudreau was replaced by Dale Hunter, the Capitals have gone 12-9-1 playing themselves into a 1st place tie with the Florida Panthers in the Southeast Division.
"I didn't know the Predators were this good!" Said many Islander fans who watched Monday afternoon's 3-1 Islanders loss to Nashville. Maybe no one realized that they are so talented because they only play the Islanders once a year. And that is definitely something a realignment can change, but that is a discussion for another time.
If you read my pregame report for this game, you will know that 1 out of the 3 things that I suggested happened. The one being that the Islanders started Kevin Poulin. Poulin had been stellar in Bridgeport, being named AHL Player of the Week stopping 98 of his last 100 shots faced prior to Monday's game.
Nino Niederreiter has been playing with the New York Islanders all season long, but the amount of time he has spent on the ice has become somewhat of a concern amongst Isles fans. The 19-year old winger had a very impressive season last year with the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL. His skill, size and vision on the ice allowed the Islanders to feel that he was ready to make the full-time jump to the NHL with the organization envisioning his development to result along the lines of a top-six scoring winger.
So far this year, Niederreiter has become the exact opposite. His season was plagued by injuries from the get-go, forcing him to miss the start of the year with a groin injury he sustained in the pre-season. He came back gradually, but eventually started to show that he was getting his game back by using his size in the corners and scoring his first goal of the season. But another injury, the infamous concussion that was given to him in a game against the Dallas Stars, became another hurdle for the young forward to leap over in his development. As a result, the Islanders have played a total of 39 games on the year; Nino has only appeared in 16 of them.