It’s been a heck of a first half for the Islanders as they coast into the All-Star break with a 31-14-1 record, good for first place in the Metropolitan Division. They ended up the nominal first half with wins in five of their last six and own a tidy 15-2-0 record against division foes. The team is doing everything it can to make the last season at the Nassau Coliseum a memorable one.
So as the team takes a well-deserved break before the final second half push kicks off next Tuesday against the Rangers, it’s time to take a look back and what happened over the season’s first 46 games and preview ahead to the final 36 regular season games.
If you believe in omens, scoring 31 seconds into the game isn't a bad sign if you're an Islander fan. At the end of the night the New York Islanders topped the Columbus Blue Jackets in dominating fashion, winning 5-2 at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, setting the stage for what should be a great game Tuesday night against the Rangers.
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.
Despite the recent success of the Islanders, there is still a major hole that needs to be filled within the team’s lineup.
John Tavares and Kyle Okposo have been the undisputed top two forwards on this team for the past year. Currently, Tavares and Okposo are tied for the team lead in points with 24 each in 27 games played. However, the third member of the top line is not even close.
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).
The New York Islanders played in a packed house filled with two fan bases that were seething with animosity towards one another. In previous years, a visiting division rival fan base would overtake the Coliseum and diminish most “Let’s Go Islanders” chants.
Not this year.
On a night where the team was honoring Islanders legend, Denis Potvin, Isles fans quickly extinguished the chants from New Jersey fans and drowned out their support (as well as throw in many other chants as well) with ease as the home team fought for a 3-1 victory in front of a sold out Nassau Coliseum crowd.
The Islanders play host to the Tampa Bay Lightning Tuesday night as they look to exact revenge on the Lightning for Saturday night’s 5-2 defeat in the Sunshine State. The loss snapped the Isles’ five game win streak but they will look to start up another one at the Nassau Coliseum against a loaded Lightning team.
This game is the first of a home and home series between the two talented Eastern Conference teams. They will skate again in Uniondale on Tuesday 11/18/14. Tampa Bay and New York’s statistical lines throughout the 2014-15 look extremely similar.