Over the past few years the New York Islanders may have found consistency on the top line due largely in part to the chemistry between John Tavares and Matt Moulson. But the same cannot be said for much of the depth on offense.
That is until Casey Cizikas began centering Matt Martin and Colin McDonald.
The trio have been playing together as a fourth line, or as head coach Jack Capuano has liked calling them, "the energy line."
It took a dramatic finish, but the New York Islanders finally won a game on home ice during a Sunday matinee game, defeating the Ottawa Senators 3-2 in the shootout.
The Islanders got on the board early in the game when Brad Boyes scored his fifth of the year, beating Robin Lehner glove side under the crossbar. The play started when Matt Moulson received a pass from Mark Streit at the Senators blue line and fed Boyes the puck as he was flying up the slot.
Not long after Boyes' goal, Matt Martin was found banging bodies all over the ice. In fact Martin had 6 hits in just over 3 minutes of play during the first period. Senators enforcer Chris Neil took exception to Martin's physical play and challenged him to a fight, but Martin ignored his request and continued to take out Senators along the wall.
He finished with 11 hits on the night. Coming into the game, Martin was just one shy of tying Buffalo Sabres forward Steve Ott for the league lead of 94 hits.
Everyone's focus has been on the level of play brought to the ice by Jakub Voracek and Claude Giroux.
Both are the top two point-getters for the Flyers, and both have garnered a lot of attention for their speed, goal scoring and prolific passing. Their 25 and and 22 points respectively along with Scott Hartnell's play have made them one of the most dangerous top lines in the NHL.
Not lost in the mix of scoring has been second line winger Wayne Simmonds, who shares time with Voracek and Giroux on the top power play unit.
Simmonds has nine goals on the season, tied with Voracek for the team lead. He is fourth in points with 17.
(Pictured: Wayne Simmonds scores on a breakaway in the second period. Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
Major penalties, desperation saves and a lot of bad blood were thrown into the pot Saturday afternoon.
Those were the ingredients in a violent 60 minutes between the Flyers and Senators. Ilya Bryzgalov won the goalie battle and he helped lead the Flyers to a huge 2-1 win over Ottawa Saturday afternoon to cap the home stand.
And most importantly, the Flyers got to .500 for the first time this season. After six previously failed attempts, their seventh try at evening up their record was successful.
(Pictured: Zac Rinaldo fights along the boards with Daniel Alfredsson. Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)
As expected last night was a relatively tight match between two teams who had pretty similar stats going into the game. Twenty-one year old, Swede, Robin Lehner was called up from the AHL to hopefully repeat the shutout performance he had in Boston exactly one year before...but he was bested by Patrice Bergeron in overtime.
The first period saw the Bruins kill off their twenty-sixth straight penalty, their best PK record since 2009. The B's also outshot the Sens eleven to five and had twice as many face off wins in the first twenty minutes, despite heading into intermission scoreless.
The New York Islanders were very active yesterday, acquiring three new players on the open market on the first day of NHL Free Agency. Forward Brad Boyes was signed to a one-year, $1 million deal and was soon followed by defenseman Matt Carkner's three-year contract worth $4.5 million.
Not long after these signings, former Islanders forward P.A. Parenteau inked a four-year, $16 million deal with the Colorado Avalance. Although many on twitter felt that the Isles could have easily afforded Parenteau's new contract, it still made plenty of sense to let him go. Four years for a 29 year old hockey player that only had one season worthy of top line honors and only two full seasons of NHL experience is a lot to commit too. In addition, Matt Moulson presently makes less per year than Parenteau's new contract. Moulson has been a consistent thirty goal scorer since joining the Islanders and has maintained chemistry with his long-time buddy, John Tavares. GM Garth Snow must have seen the risks in possibly off-setting the locker room if he showed that he felt Parenteau was more deserving a higher salary to go along with the other risk factors involved in that contract. With that being said, I wish Parenteau the best of luck and will look forward to seeing him return to Coliseum ice.
But in every difficulty lies an opportunity, and that is what Brad Boyes has been given.
The Islanders' season may be done but the hockey season remains, and as a die hard hockey fan I will milk this season for all that it has. The playoff seedings this season came down to the last weeks, days, and games of the season moving teams all around the standings some for the better (Phoenix Coyotes) and some for the worse (Buffalo Sabres). The final seedings were decided and the 2011-12 playoff matchups were set. (Photo Credit: Ice Insiders, Ryan Boyd)
The Eastern Conference matchups are as follows the New York Rangers (1) vs. the Ottawa Senators (, the Boston Bruins (2) vs. the Washington Capitals (7), the Florida Panthers (3) vs. the New Jersey Devils (6) and the Pittsburgh Penguins (4) vs. the Philadelphia Flyers (5). So far three of the four series are tied at one game a piece and the game that is not tied is quite possibly the bigges surprise in the Easern Conference.