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Islanders Puck Talk – Weekly Review

Ah, the Islanders are back to being exactly what we thought they were.  They are a team with some serious offensive firepower, good but not great goaltending, and shoddy defense.  Try as Barry Trotz might, it’s almost impossible to gauge how good this team will actually be by the end of the season.  Trotz has given them the opportunity to make the playoffs because of his new defensive system, but with poor efforts like the game in Pittsburgh sometimes systems alone can’t put a team over the edge.

New York Islanders @ Boston Bruins – November 29th, 2018

Score – 2-1 Bruins (SO)

Player of the game – Anders Lee

Team Grade – B+

This was a classic “good road point” game.  The Islanders and Bruins played a very tight game in Boston.  There weren’t many opportunities on either side to score, and after Anders Lee’s goal in the first the Isles weren’t able to generate any kind of offense.

The Islanders’ special teams continued to slow them down, giving up a PP goal to Brad Marchand in the second and not capitalizing on any of their PP chances.  Mat Barzal scored in overtime but the goal was waved off due to “goaltender interference” on Anthony Beauvillier.  In reality, Beau was pushed into the net by Jake Debrusk and there was nothing that he could have done.  The Islanders lost a point but still came out with a good result against a very good team.

Columbus Blue Jackets @ New York Islanders – December 1st, 2018

Score – 3-2 Islanders

Player of the game – The fans at Nassau Coliseum

Team Grade – B

This would be an A+ if the Islanders actually played well, but they just happened to use the crazy crowd at Nassau Coliseum to will them to a win.  If you haven’t read about the game at the Coliseum yet, you should right here.  The Islanders played a tight game with Columbus in the first, but some sloppy play in front of Thomas Greiss led to two quick goals by the Jackets.

Luckily, Anders Lee brought the crowd back into the game with a wonky goal off of his shoulder and in.  Anthony Beauvillier followed with a breakaway goal that he was able to stuff home, and Casey Cizikas made the crowd erupt with a GWG in the third after a beautiful wrap around feed by Ryan Pulock.  It was a special experience for Islander fans and they’re lucky to have come out with a win.

Winnipeg Jets @ New York Islanders – December 4th, 2018

Score – 3-1 Jets

Player of the game – Anders Lee

Team Grade – B-

This was a game that the Islanders should have won, and the score isn’t indicative of how well they actually played.  Unfortunately, you’re judged on your record not your effort so a loss is still just a loss.  This was a very similar game to Boston, as there were barely any chances between the two teams through two periods.

Anders Lee started the scoring off again early in the third, but a PPG after a BRUTAL Mathew Barzal offensive zone holding the stick penalty and a complete mental lapse that led to another quick goal 22 seconds later buried the Islanders.  The Jets are not the type of team you can let linger in a game, and they paid for it dearly.  The PP continued to sputter, unable to score on either of its two PP tries.

New York Islanders @ Pittsburgh Penguins – December 6th, 2018

Score – 6-2 Penguins

Player of the game – No one

Team Grade – F

This one was a total stinker.  The Islanders looked like they may have had a shot after Brock Nelson was able to tally a SHG after going down 1-0 early, but four straight Penguins goals thwarted that attempt.  The Isles’ three biggest nemesises all scored in this game, with Kris Letang scoring the first two goals for the Pens, Phil Kessel the next two, and Sidney Crosby the final goal.

You know it’s a bad game and just a poor effort in general when your coach is yelling at you to “TRY HARDER”.  Barry Trotz was visibly upset with how the Islanders were going about this game, and even though the Pens haven’t gotten off to the start they wanted this season they are still as dangerous a team as there is in the NHL.  If the Islanders are going to be a player in the Stanley Cup Playoffs this season, they NEED to be more consistent with their efforts against good teams.

New York Islanders @ Detroit Red Wings – December 8th, 2018

Score – 3-2 Islanders

Player of the game – Ryan Pulock

Team Grade – B

This was the grittiest win of the season, and one that the Isles needed desperately.  After going down 1-0 in the first, the Islanders got lucky when the Red Wings were offsides on a quick second goal.  The goal was overturned but the Wings eventually scored again to double the lead.

A big hit on Anders Lee by Niklas Kronwall sparked the Isles’ comeback.  Lee was shaken up and left the game for a while. and that led to a Josh Bailey – Dylan Larkin fight, and later a Johnny Boychuk – Justin Abdelkader fight.  Boychuk pummeled Abdelkader and the tenacity of the Islanders is ultimately what won them the game.

Casey Cizikas got the Islanders back into the game with a quick goal in the second, Ryan Pulock FINALLY scored on the PP from the point with an absolute rocket on a 5-on-3 opportunity.  The game winner?  The fantastic Matt Martin, who scored his fourth of the season, one more than he scored all last year.  It’s exactly the kind of win the Isles needed, and a game that could turn their season for the better.

 

Look, at the end of the day it’s hard to say if the Islanders are going to be a playoff team.  There are a lot of bad things that you’re seeing from the team, but they’re also cleaning a lot of those things that haunted them last year up.  Their goaltending has been excellent, their defense has been much improved, and they are on par with last year’s group in terms of scoring.  If they can figure out the PP and find ways to win close games, the Islanders WILL be one of those top tier teams.  Until then, they just need to take it one game at a time.

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Chris Passarelli
Football Editor - Hockey Editor - New York Islanders Lead Writer - New York Lizards Lead Writer - UConn Football Lead Writer
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