Fish Sticks – California Dreaming for the Isles?
Editor’s note; This is a new column that I’m trying out. Like the brand new ‘Dishin’ and Swishin’ for the Knicks, and the Yankees Hot Corner, I want to have weekly columns for all the sports that I write for. Having a column like Fish Sticks gives us more freedom to discuss larger subjects, and it’s more of an open forum than the more structured Islanders Puck Talk. I hope you enjoy.
The New York Islanders haven’t played a hockey game in about four months. In all seriousness, the Islanders start a three game West Coast road trip Wednesday night, the first game in Anaheim. The Islanders haven’t played since Saturday and hopefully aren’t rusty like they were against the Nashville Predators.
It seems that in years past this West Coast road trip makes or breaks the Islander season. It essentially ruined Jack Capuano’s coaching career. It brought the team together after a dismal November a few seasons ago. It may not seem like a big deal, but these long road trips bring the team together. California is absolutely beautiful, but make no mistake this is a business trip and a business trip only for the Islanders.
The lines have shifted for Wednesday night’s game, as have the defensive pairs. Here’s a look at the new lines and pairings;
Lee – Nelson – Eberle
Ladd – Barzal – Bailey
Beau – Filppula – Clutterbuck
Johnston – Cizikas – Komarov
Leddy – Pulock
Hickey – Mayfield
Sbisa – Boychuk
It looks like Thomas Greiss will take the first game of this road trip, with Robin Lehner getting his shot against the L.A. Kings. These lines are very interesting as well. The second line seems to lack speed, especially considering Mat Barzal is usually the fastest player on the ice. What’s also missing is a true defensive pair, as none of the three pairs feature a true defensive player. Johnny Boychuk has looked mighty slow, as has Luca Sbisa.
The Islanders are going to need to get their wheels going if they want to have a successful California road trip. Getting off to a slow start on this trip will only hold them back once they get home. They’ll have to win at least two of the three games for it to be a successful road trip.
Can it be done? Absolutely, but the Islanders are going to have to work every shift, every minute, and every play. If they can outwork the Ducks, Kings, and Sharks and can get their speed up to snuff, they’ll be successful.
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