Islanders Puck Talk – Weekly Review
Another week gone by, another week of Islanders hockey. The past week has been a roller coaster ride for the boys in blue & orange, but grabbing five points was key in keeping pace with the rest of the Metropolitan Conference. The NHL season is extremely long, so there are going to be weeks where things don’t always plan out. The Islanders have done a great job of cutting losing streaks short & picking up points consistently.
Sunday October 29 2017 – vs Colorado Avalanche
Sunday’s game against the Avalanche was a great one for the Islanders. They came out flying, they controlled the pace of the game, & never relented, especially after a back to back. The Islanders D finally started to get their offensive legs, with goals from Nick Leddy (2) & Scott Mayfield.
The two stars of the game were Jordan Eberle & Mat Barzal. These two new teammates seem to have formed a bond both on & off the ice. Eberle had two goals, both assisted by Barzal, & Mat Barzal had FIVE assists, making him the first Islander rookie in history to accomplish that.
Mat Barzal’s assists & overall ability to create space for himself on the ice is breathing new life into the Islander’s offense. This was on full display Sunday. I’m a little concerned by the two late goals given up, but Thomas Greiss was a stalwart in net.
Islanders 6, Avalanche 4
Tuesday, November 7 – vs Edmonton Oilers
Remember the paragraph I just wrote on Mat Barzal & Jordan Eberle? Ditto for this game as well. The outcome wasn’t favorable, but goals were not easy to come by. Cam Talbot stood on his head during multiple Islander offensive zone rushes, & Thomas Greiss was able to keep the Oilers in check.
The two goals before overtime came essentially back to back. Leon Draisaitl squeaked one through Greiss at 1:59 of the second period to give Edmonton a 1-0 lead. Jordan Eberle came right back at 4:43 with a snipe past Talbot, giving Mat Barzal yet another primary assist.
As mentioned before, the rest of the game was hotly contested, but the game wound up going to overtime. It was a fitting end to regulation as both the Oilers & Islanders played their tails off.
In the overtime period, the Islanders had a two on one rush when Nick Leddy got caught too far in the offensive zone, leading to an odd-man rush for Edmonton. Leddy was able to speed back to catch Leon Draisaitl, but Draisaitl fed Connor McDavid for the game winner. It was encouraging that the Islanders were able to keep McDavid at bay for the majority of the game, but they were only able to gain one point out of it.
Oilers 2, Islanders 1
Friday, November 10, 2017 – @ Dallas Stars
This game was a tough one to swallow. I can’t even break down any positives from this game in Dallas other than Anthony Beauvillier sacrificing his body to block a shot down five goals. It’s good to see the youngster still super hungry even when the rest of the team looked lifeless.
On offense, the Islanders could get nothing going. Their powerplay was lackluster at best, their penalty kill not much better, & their five on five play was atrocious. The Islanders left Jaroslav Halak out to dry, but he also looked like he was sleeping in net. Halak gave up quite a few questionable goals on Friday.
Like I said last week, the trend of giving up soft goals is alarming. What’s also alarming is the blowouts that seem to happen every so often on the road. I can name at least five games during Doug Weight’s tenure where the Islanders just straight up didn’t show up. I hope it’s an anomaly but it’s a quite large sample size.
Stars 5, Islanders 0
Saturday, November 11, 2017 – @ St. Louis Blues
Luckily for the Islanders, as bad as they were on Friday, they were just as good if not better on Saturday. The trend where the Islanders look lifeless on the road is the same trend where they come right back & punch their opponent in the mouth the next game. Doug Weight must be a master motivator, or a hard-ass after a bad loss.
After Friday’s game, Doug Weight told reporters his team needed “maybe some heart, maybe some work ethic” (NHL.com) & boy did they respond. A flurry of goals in the first period gave the Islanders a quick 3-0 lead. The scoring was led by John Tavares, Casey Cizikas, & Jordan Eberle.
Tavares was able to muscle his way from behind the net & use some stick skills to get Jake Allen to bite. Cizikas drove to the net & put home a great rebound shot by Nick Leddy. Eberle buried a great feed by Andrew Ladd after Thomas Greiss made a masterful flailing save to spark the two on one.
The return of Josh Ho-Sang from Bridgeport was an eventful one, scoring a goal in the second while also still making the same mistakes that brought him down. He’s very young, but he needs to learn he just can’t get away with some of the fancy stuff he tries to do in the NHL. Keep it simple, play north & south, & use your speed, kid.
The Blues made things interesting with goals from Brayden Schenn & Scottie Upshall, but the Islanders kept at it. Anders Lee was able to masterfully tip home an Adam Pelech shot to put the game.
Islanders 5, Blues 2
Even though he didn’t look particularly good in his re-debut, Josh Ho-Sang has to be my high tide of the week. He didn’t know when he was coming back to the NHL after a rough start to start the season. An injury to Anthony Beauvillier granted him a call-up, & he was able to score in his first game back. He’s going to have to do A LOT more if he intends on staying in this lineup consistently, however.
Brock Nelson has completely disappeared this past week. He’s been called a streaky scorer in the past, but he looks like a ghost out there. He’s nowhere to be found both five on five play or the Powerplay, & he’s a minus four with ZERO points in his last seven games. He’s already been in Doug Weight’s doghouse this season, & he may start to lose playing time if this inconsistency continues.
This a week where the Islanders can build off of. Their win against the Blues was key. The Blues had previously been 9-1 at home this year, & atop the Western Conference in points. This was a great win for the Islanders, especially after such a poor performance Friday. It was a good week, & like I mentioned before as long as the Islanders can extend point streaks & keep losing streaks to a minimum, weeks like these are just fine. Only six points separate the entire Metropolitan Conference, so the Islanders cannot afford to lose five games in a row.