The New York Islanders continue their western road trip tonight with a stop in Los Angeles to face the Kings, still searching for their first regulation win after the last 11 games played.
The Islanders will still be without Evgeni Nabokov tonight, as Kevin Poulin is slated to start between the pipes. At the other end of the ice will likely be Ben Scrivens, who has taken over for Jonathan Quick after he went down due to injury. Scrivens has played exceptionally well, helping keep his team in the top three of the Pacific Division and 5th in the Western Conference.
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?
The New York Islanders will look to win the second game of a back-to-back trip against the Philadelphia Flyers tonight at the Wells Fargo Center.
Kevin Poulin is expected to be back between the pipes, who made some tremendous acrobatic saves against the Pittsburgh Penguins last night despite a 4-3 loss on a goal that came from Sidney Crosby in the final minute of the third period.
Defensive breakdowns would end up costing the Isles a very valuable point, as they were just a little over a minute away from overtime.
The struggling New York Islanders (7-10-3) look to turn things around tonight with Evgeni Nabokov in goal against the visiting Detroit Red Wings (9-5-6). The Red Wings, now a new Eastern Conference opponent due to the alignment change, are facing the Isles for the first time this season after a 4-3 shootout loss last night to the Washington Capitals.
The Isles, who once sat second in the Metropolitan Division, currently sit in 6th, five points behind the second place Capitals and three points behind the third place Carolina Hurricanes.
An inability to hold gain leads and/or hold them has propelled the Islanders to the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings (12th in the East) and has allowed their division rivals to surpass them.
Ryan Strome has been developing with the New York Islanders organization for the past two years, playing with their AHL farm-team affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (Photo Credit: mandelux12/Flickr).
In 10 games with the Sound Tigers in 2013, Strome scored seven points in 10 games (two goals and five assists). He has continued the high scoring pace this season as well, notching 14 points in nine games played (three goals and 11 assists) as the team's top scorer.
He also was cited as the best player in the Islander rookie camp before the puck dropped for this season as well.
The Islanders have begun the season slowly on offense, so for some reason their coach Jack Capuano believes that breaking up the teams top scoring pair is the best way to ignite the team. This logic makes no sense.
With the preseason now behind us, Isles fans everywhere can collectively breathe a sigh of relief as the moment we have all been waiting for is upon us. The Isles are on the verge of playing the first meaningful games since the heart breaking game 6 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins last May. We have all been eager to pick up right where we left off after exceeding all expectations last season. With all of this in mind, we can only hope for the success to continue so the Islanders can take their place among the elite teams of the NHL. Although the outcome of this coming season is yet to be determined, I think I speak for Islander fans everywhere when I say this is the most confident we have been in the last 20 years.
Going into this season the New York Islanders are in a very unique position compared to what they have been in the past. They are a team that is confident having come off of an unexpected and impressive playoff appearance last year. They have organizational depth that has built up nicely from sticking to their rebuilding plan and drafting well. To supplement that, they have made smart signings and waiver additions that both have and are looking to make an impact in the NHL. With the majority of the roster already set, it will be these players that are fighting to stay in the bottom lines that could ultimately have the biggest impact on how the Islanders do this season.