Islanders Puck Talk – Weekly Review
If you look up the word disappointment in the dictionary, that’s what best describes this week of Islanders hockey. So many missed opportunities, blown leads, and poor goaltending that left the Islanders 1-1-1 after this week. They got three points, but they played for almost 50 minutes in each game like they deserved all six.
Tuesday, December 19th 2017 – vs Detroit Red Wings
This was by far the most disappointing game I’ve seen the Islanders play in a long time. They had the Red Wings on the ropes for a majority of the game, but gave it all up in the third period. Anders Lee started the scoring early to finally give the Islanders a first period lead, but the Islanders give it right back after goals by Martin Frk and Gustav Nyquist on the PP.
Ryan Pulock had plenty of opportunities on the PP this game, and he delivered with a booming slapshot that went right through Petr Mrazek. Josh Bailey delivered yet another goal on the PP to give the Islanders a 3-2 lead, but once again the Islanders gave it right back, as Anthony Mantha scored late in the second period. Thomas Greiss looked lost all game, as he seems to have looked this entire season.
The third period was all Islanders for half of the third period, but two backbreaking goals by Trevor Daley and Mike Green gave the Red Wings the game. Mike Green added an empty netter to make it 6-3, but it wasn’t nearly that lopsided of a game. It was actually a game the Islanders should have one, but poor D play and porous goaltending doomed them once again.
Red Wings 6, Islanders 3
Thursday, December 21st 2017 – vs Anaheim Ducks
Jaroslav Halak got the chance to redeem himself after Greiss’ terrible start on Tuesday, and he didn’t fair much better. The Ducks scored two early goals (one softie of course) by Hampus Lindholm and Ondrej Kase. The Islanders looked lost for most of the first period. For whatever reason, they always seem to start off slow, regardless of the opponent.
Mat Barzal opened up the scoring in the second to cut it to 2-1 on the PP, but Lindholm responded again to make it 3-1. John Tavares ended the second period with a beautiful PPG to cut it to 3-2. The Islanders are never out of a game, regardless of how poorly they may play early. The Islanders PP has been smoking as of late, scoring goals in five straight games.
Tavares started off the third with a yeoman-like goal to tie the game, then Andrew Ladd gave the Islanders the lead two minutes later. Unfortunately, as it’s been in past years, the Islanders just cannot hold onto a lead and Rickard Rakell tied it up with about a minute to go. The Islanders are young, but they really need to learn how to play with a lead against a good team. They need to establish themselves late in games so games like this can be avoided.
Overtime started and as is the case in most 3-on-3 periods, it was very back and forth. With just under a minute to go, Lindholm struck again and gave the Ducks the game-winner. It was almost as disappointing as the Detroit game, as the Islanders came all the way back just to grab a measly point. It’s better than not getting any points, but with this offense they really should be better.
Ducks 5, Islanders 4 (OT)
Saturday, December 23rd 2017 – vs Winnipeg Jets
It looked like the Islanders were a little pissed off after their deflating performance on Thursday, as they came out buzzing against the Winnipeg Jets. Lee and Barzal scored back-to-back within the first two and a half minutes of the first period to put the Islanders up 2-0. Tucker Poolman got one back for the Jets, but Barzal potted his second of the game towards the end of the first and the Islanders never looked back.
Zero goals in the second period, but lots of sustained pressure, plenty of composure both in the offensive and defensive zone, and good goaltending by Halak. The veteran goaltender didn’t face too much pressure, but he still managed to make 38 of 40 saves, which is fantastic especially for this team.
About halfway through the third period, the young stud Barzal scored the first hat trick in his career. He is the second youngest player in Islanders history to have a hat trick, with Tavares being the youngest. He is also the first Islanders rookie to score a hat trick since Michael Grabner in 2011. It was a great moment for the kid, and it was followed shortly after by another youngster, Anthony Beauvillier. Beau scored his first goal in a while, and he needed the kind of game that he had to get things going again. He’s never going to be Barzal, but he’s a special player in his own right. Adam Lowry scored a goal late to cut the lead to three goals, but the game was already over by the time Winnipeg made it 5-2. It was a game the Islanders needed, and a game that had to be won to start the Christmas break on a high note.
Islanders 5, Jets 2
Barzal is the third Islander this year to receive an NHL Star of the Week nomination, gaining second star honors. Barzal over the past five games has seven points, including four goals in his last two. His hat trick was sort of a coming out moment for the rookie, even though the rest of the league already knows who he is. He has changed his game over the past week or two, becoming more of a scorer rather than a playmaker. He is constantly reshaping his game to make it much harder on opposing teams to make a gameplan for him.
Greiss has been absolutely atrocious this entire season. His 9-5-2 record is deceiving because he has an .883 Save Percentage and a 3.83 Goals Against Average. It’s a shame because he singlehandedly stole the series against Florida two years ago, but he’s nowhere near where he needs to be to contend for the number one goalie spot. He’s too talented to play this poorly for this long. It doesn’t make much sense. I’m sure it’s all a lack of confidence, but eventually he’s going to need to get off this snide.
Just a quick note to add; Kieffer Bellows & USA are playing Denmark right now in The 2018 World Juniors Championship. They’re favorites to win the tournament along with Canada after a shootout win in last year’s final. Bellows returns for his second year and will hopefully be a force for the Islanders in years to come. For those who haven’t seem him, he’s a special player with a knack for the net. He’s Anders Lee with a better wrist shot, and he’s willing to go to any area to score a goal. He already has two goals and it’s only halfway through the first game of the tournament. I look for him to have a bright future for the Islanders.
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