Islanders Puck Talk – Weekly Review
Hello boys and girls. Welcome back to hockey season! With hockey season comes a weekly roundup of Islander games, or in the case this time around a bi-weekly round-up. The Islanders only played four times in what feels like a month, but nonetheless there needs to be a weekly recap.
However, the Islander Weekly reviews will be more of a breakdown of how the team is playing. Too much last year the reviews were really just recaps of scoring. We at Double G Sports want to make a conscious effort to bring our readers as much interactive coverage as possible, so that’s why the format is changing. Let’s get started, shall we?
New York Islanders @ Carolina Hurricanes – October 4th, 2018
Score – 2-1 Islanders (OT)
Player of the game – Thomas Greiss
Play of the game – Josh Bailey overtime winner
Team Grade – B- (B’s get degrees)
The Islanders started their season in Carolina against what is now a very tough Hurricanes team (with an awesome post-game ritual). Valteri Filppula scored, and the Islanders were well on their way to a 1-0 victory in the opener. Unfortunately, with just 1:35 left in the third, a puck got deflected off Jordan Staal’s butt and into the net.
All hope looked to be lost for the Islanders but Mat Barzal drew a penalty with three seconds left to play, and Josh Bailey capitalized with an overtime one-timer snapshot via Barzal. It was a good win to start the season, and Thomas Greiss was most certainly the player of the game, making 45 saves in the winning effort.
Nashville Predators @ New York Islanders – October 6th, 2018
Score – 4-3 Predators
Player of the game – Mathew Barzal
Play of the game – Anders Lee PP goal
Team Grade – B (even in a losing effort)
The Islanders’ home opener came against a worthy opponent, the almighty Nashville Predators. The Isles were in the game for about forty minutes, but Nashville’s attack was too much for them. It was a disappointing effort for Barry Trotz, as he was the inaugural and longest tenured coach of the Predators.
The team didn’t looked overmatched at all against the Preds, going goal for goal until the third period and playing a structured game despite the four goals by Nashville. If there is such a thing, this game was more of a moral victory than anything. If the Islanders can play this way all season, they’ll win most of these games.
San Jose Sharks @ New York Islanders – October 8th, 2018
Score – 4-0 Islanders
Player of the game – Robin Lehner
Play of the game – Valteri Filppula steal and assist on Matt Martin’s goal
Team Grade – A+ (may be the best game they’ve played in years)
The New York Islanders stayed home for a Columbus Day matinee against another great opponent, the San Jose Sharks. Clearly the NHL wanted to give the Islanders no breaks at the beginning of the season, having them play against two Stanley Cup favorites then sending them on a West Coast road trip.
Regardless, it was a flawless game played by the Islanders. All four lines were buzzing, the defense was structurally sound and kept the Sharks’ Power Play off the scoreboard. Robin Lehner was perfect in net also, stopping all 35 shots and not overreaching for saves. The biggest problem with Lehner in the past was that he didn’t use his size to his advantage, scrambling around the net instead of playing a compact, solid style.
This was a game that showed the rest of the league that Barry Trotz can help the Islanders succeed, especially after such a poor defensive season. It was a perfect effort from the entire team and the exact kind of game that Trotz was looking for.
New York Islanders @ Nashville Predators – October 13th, 2018
Score – 5-2 Predators
Player of the game – Brock Nelson
Play of the game – Brock Nelson’s 100th career goal
Team Grade – C+ (the score is deceiving though)
As stated before, having the Islanders play both the San Jose Sharks and the Nashville Predators within two weeks is a bit unfair for one team. However, you’re dealt the cards you’re dealt and the Islanders came out with probably the worst first period they’ve had in seasons. They were completely dominated from the start and it showed on the scoresheet. Nashville racked up three late goals in the first thanks to lazy play and odd-man rushes.
The Isles came out a much more inspired team in the second period, eventually cutting the lead to one thanks to a great Brock Nelson goal (his 100th career) and the first of the year for previously injured Andrew Ladd. However, Kyle Turris put a dagger in the Islanders with a PP goal, the first given up by the Islanders this season. An empty net goal made it a three goal lead, but this game was much closer than the score indicated.
Overall, it was a decent week for the Islanders. They got lucky stealing a win in Carolina thanks to Thomas Greiss, but also got jobbed a bit in their first lost to Nashville. This team is extremely competitive, and although they might not have top end talent yet, they’re going to be a tough team to play against for seasons to come.
If Barry Trotz is as good as his track record indicates, he will make sure the Islanders will be perennial playoff contenders. The defensive structure is night and day from last season, and the offense is going to score goals. If the team can get Robin Lehner and Thomas Greiss to play consistent, solid hockey, this Islander team can surprise a lot of people. Until then, it’s one game at a time.
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