Islanders Puck Talk – Weekly Review
The Islanders had a semi-rough few games this week, dropping three straight after a five game winning streak. However, it looks like the Isles have righted the ship once again, winning back to back games including a wild one at the Barc against the hated New York Rangers. Here’s a breakdown of each of the games.
Montreal Canadiens @ New York Islanders – November 5th, 2018
Score – 4-3 Canadiens (SO)
Player of the game – Casey Cizikas
Team Grade – C+
This is one of those games where if the Islanders had continued their losing streak would concern you. This was the classic “Islanders outplay their opponent in the first then get taken to the woodshed in the third” games. Unfortunately, this has been a regular occurrence over the past ten or so seasons, with the Isles being unable to hold leads after the first.
Casey Cizikas scored twice in the first period, including a very lucky bounce where he tried to pass but the puck got deflected right back to him with an open net. Val Filppula scored also in the first, as he continued his torrid scoring pace. Filppula has been a wonder for the Islanders, especially considering the lack of production from Mat Barzal and Anthony Beauvillier.
The buck stopped there, as Montreal took the Islanders to the woodshed for the next two periods. Max Domi scored a PP goal to cut the lead to 3-2 in the second, and then Noal Juulsen tied it at three in the third. The Islanders wound up losing in a shootout, but they were honestly lucky to come away with even a point. They were badly outplayed for almost two full periods and need to put in a full effort if they’re going anywhere this season.
New York Islanders @ Tampa Bay Lightning – November 8th, 2018
Score – 4-2 Lightning
Player of the game – Josh Bailey
Team Grade – B-
The Islanders started off their Florida road trip on the wrong foot, losing to the Lightning in regulation after holding on to dear life for almost a full three periods. Josh Bailey got the Isles started in the first with an early goal, but it was all Tampa for the next period and a half with goals by Mat Johnson and J.T. Miller.
Josh Bailey struck again midway through the third to tie the game up at 2. This was a game that the Islanders realistically should have won considering they outshot the Lightning by ten and outplayed them for stretches. However, sometimes hockey is cruel and a late Tyler Johnson goal with just about a minute to go foiled the Isles’ plans.
At the end of the day, the Hockey Gods giveth and the Hockey Gods taketh away. The Islanders just had to move on and improve in the next game.
New York Islanders @ Florida Panthers – November 10th, 2018
Score – 4-2 Panthers
Player of the game – Brock Nelson
Team Grade – C
The “improve in the next game” mantra apparently didn’t reach the Islanders in Sunrise, as the Islanders slept walk to a bad loss to the lowly Panthers. Mat Barzal tied the game up at one in the first, but throughout the game the pace of play favored the Panthers heavily.
Brock Nelson gave the Islanders a brief 2-1 lead, but a late backbreaking goal by Mike Hoffman sealed the Isles’ fate. Two third period goals by the Panthers buried the Islanders, and they had no one to blame but themselves. Going 0-4 on the Power Play with very little movement isn’t a recipe for success. Their PP woes are eye-opening, and although their PK is good, they need both special teams to be working in order to be successful.
Vancouver Canucks @ New York Islanders – November 13th, 2018
Score – 5-2 Islanders
Player of the game – Tom Kuhnhackl (yes that is correct)
Team Grade – A
The New York Islanders needed some home cooking in order to get things going again. A visit from a tired Vancouver Canuck team after a back-to-back is exactly what was in order for the Isles to get back on a winning streak.
The Islanders went down 1-0 very early, but three straight goals from Tom Kuhnhackl, Josh Bailey, and Jordan Eberle gave the Islanders a 3-1 lead heading into the second. Kuhnhackl scored an Alexander Ovechkin-esque goal as he fell to the ice, whipped his stick around the puck and flung it over the shoulder of Jacob Markstrom.
The Islanders nearly gave it back when Jake Virtanen scored a PP goal in the second period, but they buckled down in the third and added to their lead, with another weird goal by Kuhnhackl and a well-deserved PPG by Cal Clutterbuck. Kuhnhackl’s goal was nearly called off due to a kicking motion, but the goal stood. Clutterbuck’s was the first of the season and the first in nearly a year. The Islanders were able to hold off the Canucks and start building a new streak.
New York Rangers @ New York Islanders – November 15th, 2018
Score – 7-5 Islanders
Player of the game – Anthony Beauvillier
Team Grade – A+++++ for beating the Rangers
The Islanders dominance against the New York Rangers continued, with the Islanders winning their 12th meeting in 13 games, and staying undefeated at the Barclays against the Rangers. The Islanders are now 7-0-0 against the Rangers at their new home, and have chased Henrik Lundqvist from the net in five of those games.
This was not a game for those who enjoy good defense. This game was a wild west shootout that had the feel of an early 80’s hockey game. No defense, all scoring was the name of the game. The Rangers shot out to an early 2-0 lead with undisciplined play by the Isles, but the boys in blue were able to storm right back with an Anthony Beauvillier tip and a Brock Nelson goal.
The second period was more of the same with a breakaway Beau goal, a breakaway SHG by Kevin Hayes, and two more tipped PPG by Beauvillier and Anders Lee. The Beau goal gave the Islanders another lead and gave him his first hat trick of his career. It was a shining moment for the young player, as he had been struggling to find a hold in this Isles’ lineup.
The Isles stretched their lead to 6-3 on a Leo Komarov goal, but an undisciplined cross check by Mat Barzal sent him to the box, then the bench for the rest of the game. The Rangers gained momentum from that penalty, scoring on the PP then subsequently cutting the lead to one later in the third. Cal Clutterbuck sealed it with his second goal in as many games (albeit an empty netter) and the Islanders slayed the Rangers once again.
The Islanders have had ebbs and flow so far this season, but are sitting pretty at 10-6-2 and second in the Metro division. This team has something special about them, and although they don’t have nearly the talent to make a legitimate run at the Stanley Cup, they do have enough to stay in the race for a while. It’s going to be interesting to see how this next stretch of games play out, but just know that Barry Trotz is pushing all the right buttons so far.
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