Islanders Puck Talk – Weekly Review
Minus the disappointing loss against Vegas where the Islanders actually outplayed the Golden Knights, the Islanders have been rolling. With points in four of their last five games and a three game winning streak, the Isles find themselves only a point out of second place in the Metro.
Barry Trotz is starting to teach this team how to win, and back to back wins against a potent Colorado Avalanche team and a feisty Arizona Coyotes team gives the Isles confidence for the rest of their road trip. It’s not easy sledding, as they have to play in Vegas and Dallas. Let’s see how they did over the past few games.
Pittsburgh Penguins @ New York Islanders – December 10th, 2018
Score – 2-1 Penguins (SO)
Player of the game – Anthony Beauvillier
Team Grade – B-
There was not much going on for the Islanders or the Penguins through the first two periods, but Anthony Beauvillier was able to get one past Casey DeSmith early in the second.
The Islanders were able to gain a ton of momentum in the third, but were unable to capitalize on any of their chances thanks to the heroics of Casey DeSmith. After the Islanders pushed for the first two minutes of the third, Derick Brassard tied the game up at 1. Both teams had plenty of opportunities in regulation, but the game went to overtime.
The Islanders had at least two or three opportunities to get one past DeSmith, including a terrible 4 on 3 PP that ended with more Penguins shots than Islanders. Unfortunately for Robin Lehner, who played fantastic, the Islanders were defeated in a shootout.
Vegas Golden Knights @ New York Islanders – December 12th, 2018
Score – 3-2 Golden Knights
Player of the game – Anthony Beauvillier
Team Grade – B
Anthony Beauvillier had another great game, tying the game up immediately in the first after the Islanders gave up a super early PP goal to Vegas. Adam Pelech scored in the second to give the Islanders the lead, but Wild Bill Karlsson tied it up at two.
The Islanders, try as they might, unfortunately couldn’t get enough going to score another goal and after an early third period goal by Tomas Nosek were on the losing end of a tight game. The Isles played about as good of a game as you can in a loss, with plenty of opportunities to score, but just couldn’t get the job done. Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.
New York Islanders @ Detroit Red Wings – December 15th, 2018
Score – 4-3 Islanders (SO)
Player of the game – Mathew Barzal
Team Grade – B-
You’ll see a running theme here, that Anthony Beauviller was on a bit of a heater this week. After another early PP goal given up by the Islanders, Beau was able to tie the game up once again in the first period. The Islanders kept clawing their way back into the game and the Best 4th Line in Hockey gave the Isles the lead on a beautiful goal by Casey Cizikas. Mat Barzal tied the game up beforehand with a rare PP goal.
Unfortunately for the Isles, they left Thomas Vanek wide open with just about a minute left in the game. Vanek tapped one in at the doorstep of the crease and after a WILD overtime the game went to a shootout. Who was the hero? None other than Mathew Barzal, who scored on a dandy dangle and gave the Islanders the two points they needed and deserved.
New York Islanders @ Colorado Avalanche – December 17th, 2018
Score – 4-1 Islanders
Player of the game – Anders Lee
Team Grade – A+
This was the most complete game the Islanders have played all season. There have been some games in the past, but this one stands out because of the competition they played against. Guys like Nate Mackinnon and Gabe Landeskog don’t grow on trees, so it was a tall task to keep the potent Colorado Avalanche off the scoresheet.
The Islanders succeeded, as they scored a late goal in the first, two BIG PP goals in the second by Anders Lee and Johnny Boychuk, and a cherry on top by Val Filppula into the empty net. The bugaboo of the Islanders over the past month has been their horrendous PP. They hadn’t scored since November and they were finally able to break through when they needed it most.
The most important part of the game was a four minute PK that the Islanders were able to kill after DOUBLE MINOR PENALTIES on Josh Ho-Sang for holding and hooking. I’m not sure if anyone had ever seen two penalties called on the same play before, but of course it would happen to Ho-Sang. Luckily, the Islanders kill on a very talented Avs PP gave them momentum that carried them for the rest of the game. They gave Colorado nothing, and it showed on the scoreboard.
New York Islanders @ Arizona Coyotes – December 18th, 2018
Score – 3-1 Islanders
Player of the game – Josh Ho-Sang
Team Grade – A
If Colorado was a blueprint for how to win a game, the Islanders followed the blueprint to nearly a tee with their win over Arizona. After a very soft goal from Robin Lehner, Josh Ho-Sang responded in the first with an absolute gem. For someone who doesn’t shoot all that often, Ho-Sang scored from a near impossible angle and overall played probably the best game of his career.
Robin Lehner and Darcy Kuemper stood on their heads for the rest of the game, but the Islanders were able to power through with a beauty by Brock Nelson and a one timer by Anthony Beauvillier (shocker). Nelson’s goal came off of a strange bounce off the boards, and Josh Bailey fed Beau in the slot after an errant pass by Arizona.
The real star of this game not named Josh Ho-Sang was Robin Lehner. He collected his first win since October 30th despite playing well in nearly every game he started, and made 36 saves on his way to victory. It was the exact kind of game he needed, and looked fantastic in net.
Overall, the Islanders have looked great this week. Sure they lost a tough one to Pittsburgh and could have won the Vegas game, but no team goes 82-0 and at the end of the day as long as they can keep this pace for the entire season they’ll easily be a playoff team in a weak Metro division. There’s still a lot of work to be done, but Barry Trotz’s squad is on the right track.
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