Islanders Puck Talk – Weekly Review
As the season winds down, these weekly reviews are getting harder and harder to write. I feel like Islanders fans’ hopes have been crushed after a week like this. What could have been six points turned into only three, with blown opportunities in the Nashville and Buffalo games. Let’s take a look at this disastrous week.
Saturday, February 3rd 2018 – vs Columbus Blue Jackets
After losing in heartbreaking fashion the past few games, the Islanders needed a W against a division foe. It wasn’t easy. Josh Anderson scored quickly for Columbus on the PP to give them a 1-0 lead. The Islanders were completely outclassed but somehow managed to score a goal late to make it a 1-1 tie going into the second. Nick Leddy has looked much better of late.
Josh Bailey was able to get off the snide in the second with this 13th of the season, but Cam Atkinson tied it up and Nick Foligno gave the Jackets the lead after an extremely poor pass by Ryan Pulock led to a breakaway. Pulock has been great of late also, but him and Scott Mayfield need to cut down on the turnovers.
The Islanders still had plenty left in the tank, as Jordan Eberle and Brock Nelson go essentially back-to-back to give the Islanders the lead again. It was a game the Islanders needed in the worst way, and regardless of how poorly Nelson has played he can still score clutch goals.
Islanders 4, Blue Jackets 3
Monday, February 5th 2018 – vs Nashville Predators
This one really hurt. The first period was an absolute disaster for anyone looking for some defense. John Tavares was able to get things going on the power play. However, Kevin Fiala had other plans for this game as he scored back to back goals midway through the period. Youngster Ryan Pulock boomed a shot past Pekka Rinne and Casey Cizikas broke free after serving a penalty to stuff one through the left skate of Rinne. The period was all over the place but the Islanders came away with the lead.
Nick Leddy scored a goal in BACK TO BACK games to give the Islanders a 4-2 lead, but Jaroslav Halak couldn’t find the puck in front of him and Calle Jarnkrok made it a one goal game late in the second. The Islanders have a tendency to let their foot off the gas pedal and this game was no different.
The Islanders played SO well in the third. They were disciplined in their own zone and dumped, chased, and kept pucks deep for 19 minutes. They had about four or five opportunities to make it a two goal game but they either whiffed on the shots or Pekka Rinne was there to stonewall them. Ryan Johansen was able to keep the puck in the zone and score after a scramble in front of the net. Jaroslav Halak was out of position but he can’t be blamed for the Islanders inability to get the puck out.
Overtime was a back and forth affair where both teams had plenty of opportunites. Rinne robbed Mat Barzal from five feet in then Jaroslav Halak stopped not one but TWO breakaways to keep the Islanders in the game. Unfortunately a bad bounce sent the puck back the other way and Roman Josi was able to get Halak out of position and score in overtime. It was a terrible loss and one the Islanders will regret come end of season.
Predators 5, Islanders 4 (OT)
Thursday, February 8th 2018 – @ Buffalo Sabres
In typical Islanders fashion the team had to play down to their competition. No offense to the Buffalo Sabres but they should have had no shot in this game. Unfortunately, the Islanders completely outplayed the Sabres for the entire first period but gave up two goals on four shots. Jaroslav Halak was completely out of position for Jack Eichel’s snipe and the defense decided not to pick up Evan Rodrigues in a scramble up front.
To add insult to injury, Ryan O’Reilly was able to score on Buffalo’s PP to make it a 3-0 game. The Islanders always have issues with inferior teams. They also have issues playing well in the second period. It was the perfect storm of complete incompetence. At least they didn’t give up 50 shots this game, as they did against Columbus. John Tavares kept the Islanders in the game with a late goal to cut the deficit to two, but you knew heartbreak was coming.
Calder favorite Ross Johnston scored his second goal in his three games played in the NHL and Anders Lee tied it up at three with a real gritty goal up front. You may have heard that phrase before for Mr. Lee. It was a hell of a comeback for the Islanders but it was short-lived as Sam Reinhart scored just a minute later off a weird bounce that wound up in front of the Isles net. It was the perfect microcosm of the Islander’s season wrapped up into five minutes.
Sabres 4, Islanders 3
If Alan Quine ever plays ahead of Ross Johnston again, I’m never watching this team. It’s actually amazing how a man with four goals in 141 AHL games (thanks Art Staple) has scored TWO NHL goals in THREE games. Johnston must love the bright lights. All joking aside Ross Johnston is the exact kind of player the Islanders need. He’s a bruising, downhill forward who plays a simple North-South game and doesn’t take too many chances. He knows how to do his job and he does it well. The fourth line is supposed to be an energy line, and having Johnston score clutch goals and make big hits is exactly what the doctor ordered.
It’s been a weird couple of weeks for Isles fans, and it didn’t get much better after Garth Snow essentially assured that the Islanders weren’t going to be players come trade deadline. This team is in need of a serious facelift and the fact that the GM who has done nothing in 12 years doesn’t see that is sad. I understand that there really isn’t all that much out there considering the outrageous prices guys like Rick Nash are going for, but Snow has to do something to keep John Tavares even remotely interested in staying. You CANNOT lose a franchise player without at least going all out to make a Stanley Cup run. Need to do something.
Well Islanders fans, this is it. This is the stretch run. These next few weeks will determine whether the Islanders will make a playoff run or will be wallowing in mediocrity for years to come. I was very optimistic at the beginning of the year but now I really don’t think John Tavares wants to stay with this mess. There are plenty of good things to look forward to, but as a franchise that has essentially won nothing in 25 years something needs to be done to vault them into perennial Cup Contender. Follow me @SupRos22 for all Islanders coverage and @DoubleGSports for all sports news.