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.
As of now, the New York Islanders do not have a forward that is undeniably the top line winger to play alongside of Kyle Okposo and John Tavares. Last year, the Islanders started the season with Matt Moulson on JT’s wing, who was soon exchanged for Thomas Vanek.
Both Moulson and Vanek fit perfectly on the top line. But with Moulson staying in Buffalo and Vanek currently preparing to wear a Minnesota Wild jersey in 2015, the top spot is once again vacated.
When things are going right offensively for the Flyers, their depth in the front nine really shows.
Matt Read, Sean Couturier and Steve Downie - The Checking Line - provided some much needed fire power at the end of the second period to give the Flyers a boost en route to a 4-1 win over the Sabres on Thursday.
Read scored two goals in the span of 1 minute, 40 seconds, and Steve Downie and Sean Couturier had the primary and secondary assists respectively on both goals. The goals came in the final six minutes of the second, erasing a 1-0 Buffalo lead.
(Photo: Matt Read [middle celebrates with [left to right] Steve Downie, Sean Couturier, Braydon Coburn and Kimmo Timonen after Read's second goal late in the second period. Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
This week presents a great opportunity for the Flyers.
After getting five of six points on their recent road trip, the Flyers head home for three games against struggling teams. All three teams have had trouble keeping pucks out of their net and, with a few wins, the Flyers can start to make their climb on the Metropolitan Division standings.
...But this trade signifies that GM Garth Snow is ready to strike a deal that can be made in order to benefit his team. He's no longer building for the future. He's looking to win right now (Photo credit: Official New York Islanders/Flickr).
And he should be. The rebuild has been over for at least a year now. The Islanders made the playoffs last year and played a series against a much better Pittsburgh Penguins team that could have gone either way had there been better goaltending.
The expectations deserve to be raised, and Snow has to make moves for the present. But at what cost?
The New York Islanders returned home after a disappointing road trip, losing back-to-back games to the Chicago Blackhawks and Nashville Predators. But their losing ways would follow them back home as they fell 4-3 to the Buffalo Sabres after being defeated in the shootout.
The first period opened with the Isles controlling the play for the entire period. Although both teams had plenty of shots, the Isles led the way with a 16-11 advantage. Evgeni Nabokov had to make some key saves, but the fore-check that the Isles put on in the offensive zone eventually led to a goal from Frans Nielsen.
The Danish center-man toe dragged the puck in the high slot and let go of a wicked wrister that beat Ryan Miller just over his glove and inside the far post. The assists went to Pierre-Marc Bouchard, his first as an Islanders forward, and Josh Bailey.
The New York Islanders have officially removed Rick DiPietro's name from their roster after using one of their two compliance buyouts on the former number one goaltender yesterday. The buyout will pay him $1.5 million over the next 16 seasons and makes him an unrestricted free agent in search of a new NHL home (Photo credit: xjowell/Flickr).
DiPietro was drafted by Mike Milbury with the 1st overall pick 13 years ago, making history in the NHL as he was the first goaltender to ever be selected first overall. He immediately began his career with the Islanders before seeing some time with the Isles AHL affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.