The Islanders came into Pittsburgh Friday night for the first time since last season's playoffs, and just like that series, the Isles caused a lot of headaches for Sidney Crosby and company as they ended up pulling out a miraculous 4-3 win. New York earned their 2 points in over a week and did it in comeback fashion.
The Philadelphia Flyers offered up what has been status quo this season by scoring just one goal in a 4-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday evening.
For the Flyers, breakdowns were the name of the game. Three of Pittsburgh's four goals, empty-netter notwithstanding, resulted directly from bad breakdowns.
After a scoreless first period, the Penguins opened the floodgates first.
Michael Raffl and Kimmo Timonen could not clear the zone, leading to a turnover. A quick snap feed from Evgeni Malkin found blazing hot Jussi Jokinen who sniped home his fourth of the season to make it 1-0.
(Photo: Flyers winger Wayne Simmonds attempts to score in close on Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
In part two of the opening season review we will examine the forwards and their contributions thus far to the season. While some players are keeping to the status quo, a few forwards have started to make their mark on the early season.
Start with the Obvious – The Pittsburgh Penguins top line of Chris Kunitz, Sidney Crosby, and Pascal Dupuis is arguably the strongest line in all of hockey. They have a combined nine goals through six games, seven of which have come while playing five on five hockey.
Here are a few other stats to show how good this line has been. *All statistics are a combined total.
+ 10, 56 shots on net, 24 total points, 8 Takeawas, 28 Hits, 87 Fac...
Saying that John Tavares will have a breakout season when he recently became a Hart Trophy finalist and has scored 249 points in 291 played NHL games in just four seasons might sound a bit ridiculous. But it very well may be true (Photo credit: theseoduke/Flickr).
Tavares was just one point shy in each of the past two seasons from establishing himself as an official point-per-game player (47 in 48 games in 2013, 81 in 82 games in 2012). He also has only eclipsed the 30 goal mark once, scoring 31 in 2012 with a whopping 50 assists to go along with his scoring touch.
With all of that being said, it is very possible that John Tavares still has not reached his full potential.
The Islanders were very busy at the start of an off-season that forecasted a flurry of movement from GM Garth Snow. On the agenda was signing a number-one goaltender and top-six forward, both of which took place on July 5th. A few other moves were made to help keep the core intact for many years to come, as well as removing another bad apple from the organization (Photo Credit: Official New York Islanders/Flickr).
After signing forward Peter Regin to what is seemingly a depth signing, the Isles quickly looked to fill the void left in the crease.
The Isles were reportedly interested in goaltender Ray Emery, who ended up signing a contract with the Philadelphia Flyers. This forced Snow to return to his original choice for the crease and sign Evgeni Nabokov to another one-year deal at $3.25 million.
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.
Game one was exactly what one team wanted and the other was not expecting.
In the most simplistic breakdown possible, Boston’s goaltending stonewalled Pittsburgh’s offense at every turn, forcing Pittsburgh into playing a style of hockey that only benefits the Bruins.
It started off as a game that saw Pittsburgh controlling play. They were everywhere on the ice and showed their excellent speed throughout the first ten minutes.
Pittsburgh had plenty of chances against Tuukka Rask early on. They had a total of 4 posts hit with shots and multiple close encounters that Rask turned away with brilliant play. His overall stability in net forced Pittsburgh into a pani...
The New York Islanders are currently on the outside looking in on the final match-ups of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Pittsburgh Penguins, who elimated the Isles in six games, are currently set to battle the Boston Bruins to see who will fight for the Cup from the Eastern Conference (Photo credit: douglasgallery30/Flickr).
One Islanders skater, Travis Hamonic, has been spending time in his cottage up north in Canada, enjoying some personal time away from the game.
The 22-year old defenseman is someone I have followed since his days in the WHL after being drafted by the Islanders with the 53rd overall pick of the 2008 Entry Draft. Since then, he has emerged from an inexperienced rookie into a reliable top-four defender, responsible for shutting down an opponent's top scorers.
Hamonic called me this afternoon (once he found a spot with good cell service) to discuss his game, the first round match-up against the Pens and the culture that has overtaken the Islanders locker room.
It took two overtimes and three simple defensive breakdowns to end a pivotal game three in the Penguins and Senators round two playoff series. It was dramatic, nerve racking, and punishing. The nasty play and overall demeanor developing in this series is better than advertised.
The tone coming into the series was mostly anticipation of brutal play. With hopes that the polarizing penguins club could be witnessed getting knocked around by a bigger Ottawa defensive core. This did not happen to the extent in which many were hoping, I see you Philly, but the physicality shown in this series dwarfs the slow tone of the only other eastern conference series.