Islanders Puck Talk – Weekly Review
I just don’t understand how a team can look so good one week, and so bad the next. This is the Islanders in a nutshell, an extremely talented yet maddeningly inconsistent team. It looks like half the games they just don’t care to be on the ice, and others they could play for five straight hours. It was another bad week for the Islanders, losing two on the road they should have won.
Wednesday, December 27, 2017 – vs Buffalo Sabres
The Islanders are very fortunate to win this one against the Sabres. They were outworked the entire third period, but found a way at the end of the period to tie it up on a magnificent shot by Josh Bailey and an even better play by Mat Barzal in overtime. The first period came and went with no goals between the two teams, although the Islanders threw plenty of shots at Robin Lehner.
Jason Chimera started the Islanders off in the second with a garbage area goal. Jason Chimera has played unbelievably well and has been an offensive force this season, with two goals in forty games. Buffalo followed that up later in the period with a nice goal by Zemgus Girgensons.
Kyle Okposo scored halfway through the third on a nasty roofer that surprised Jaro Halak. Luckily, Josh Bailey scored on a BEAUTIFUL set-up by John Tavares. The goal originally ruled no-goal after an outstretched Robin Lehner got his glove on it, but upon further review by Toronto it was determined that the puck crossed the goal line.
In overtime, it took little time for Mat Barzal to put this game away, taking a feed from Josh Bailey and moving through the slot past two defensemen and ripping one that surprised Robin Lehner and squeezed through. It was a game the Islanders needed badly.
Islanders 3, Sabres 2 (OT)
Friday, December 29, 2017 – @ Winnipeg Jets
Anders Lee tried to get the Islanders right in the second period with yet another goal, but even with the Islanders down 2-1 it didn’t look like they were ever going to be able to get anything past Connor Hellebuyck, who finished the game with 42 saves, one more fantastic than the other.
The game got out of hand in the third when Kyle Connor scored early in the third, and the Islanders essentially gave up. They stopped skating, got discouraged by Hellebuyck’s magnificent goaltending, and looked disinterested in the third period. Adam Lowry put the game away midway through the third to make it 4-1, and an Anders Lee goal in garbage time made the game look closer than it actually was. This was one of those games where the Islanders never had a shot due to a hot goalie, but need to keep their composure throughout and finish strong.
Jets 4, Islanders 2
Sunday, December 31, 2017 – @ Colorado Avalanche
This game was disgusting in every sense of the word. The Islanders didn’t look like they wanted to be out there. They came out flat in the first period and ONCE AGAIN gave up the first goal of the game, a snipe by Patrick Nemeth halfway through the first period. The Islanders had only 28 shots the entire game, and even then none of the shots really looked dangerous.
The wheels fell off in the second period as Matt Nieto, Carl Soderberg, and Gabe Landeskog twice lit the lamp. This was the worst period the Islanders played all season, maybe in the entire Doug Weight era. The only period I can compare it to was the second period in Dallas when they essentially left Thomas Greiss hanging out to dry.
I was disgusted, but Josh Bailey continued his point streak with his twelfth goal of the season. Erik Johnson added to the misery to make it a 6-1 game in a contest that realistically should have been 15-1. The Avs controlled the entire game and put 48 shots on net.
Avalanche 6, Islanders 1
Tuesday, January 2, 2018 – vs Boston Bruins
The calendar year turned to 2018, and the Islanders were hopeful that this could be the fresh start they needed, but it was just more of the same nonsense. They gave up the first goal again, as they let Danton Heinen snipe one past Jaro Halak off a face-off. Jordan Eberle returned the favor when Brandon Carlo overskated a puck in front of the net to tie it up at one, but the Islanders could never muster much offense after that.
A second period goal by Patrice Bergeron that he banked off Halak’s pads from behind the net sealed the game, because realistically the Bruins are an extremely tough forechecking team, and that was all she wrote for the Islanders. They looked listless the entire game.
Once again, the wheels fell off in the third period, as hated rival Brad Marchand, Tim Schaller, and Noel Acciari put this game completely out of reach for the Islanders. It was a disgusting game with an even worse effort, and at this point I don’t even know where to start with how poorly the Islanders have played. They are a fraud team, regardless of how well they started off or how many games are left in the season to turn things around. They cannot play defense or get consistent goaltending, and they can’t score 5+ goals every game to win.
Bruins 5, Islanders 1
I’m going to give my high tide this week to Jaroslav Halak. These past few games would be double digit losses if not for him. In the past six games he’s faced 40, 40, 37, 37, 35, 37 shots and he still has an over .900 Save Percentage. If that’s not remarkable, I don’t know what is. It’s crazy to think that at the beginning of the season he was the crux of all Islanders’ fans frustrations, and now we’re slowly starting to see that the defense in front of him is what’s letting the team down.
I’d also like to give a special shoutout to Josh Bailey once again. The man had an 11 game point streak where he racked up a hat trick, a three assist game, and 19 points overall during that streak. He is as legitimate as they come, and I hope they re-sign him as well as Tavares.
I’m giving this low tide to essentially everyone who isn’t on the Top Six of the Islanders. Thomas Greiss you are a bum and need to get your game together because we need you down this stretch. Brock Nelson, Shane Prince, Anthony Beauvillier (who was sent down to BPT to find himself), Jason Chimera, Scott Mayfield, Thomas Hickey, the list can go on to name the rest of the team, you all need to figure it out. It’s not even the goal scoring that concerns me; It’s the constant mismanagement of the puck in the Islanders’ own zone and the inability to get the puck out. It’s the more than consistent 2-on-1s given up, and it’s the regular goals given up to the opposing defenseman sneaking up into the slot. How have you not figured this out by now? How can a professional hockey team be this bad at defending the puck?
My apologies for being so frustrated with this team, but when you get off to the start you do and then just start playing uninspired hockey, it’s going to bother me a lot. They still have plenty of time to turn it around, but at the end of the day the Islanders are just a few games away from completely falling out of the Metro Division playoff race. They’re already out of a playoff spot right now, tied with Carolina in points but with Carolina having a game in hand. I’m hoping it gets better before it gets worse. I just don’t know how much worse it can get.