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Islanders Puck Talk – Weekly Review

The New York Islanders have won of their last games, but they haven’t looked all that impressive in doing so.  They barely survived a terrible game against the St. Louis Blues.  They were outshot 17-1 in the third period against the Rangers on Thursday night, the lone shot being a Josh Bailey goal to give them the lead.

The Isles have started to get away from made them so good at the beginning of the season;  They’re playing sloppy in their own zone, not forechecking hard enough, and giving away points by being too loose with the puck.  If the Islanders want to make the playoffs, they need to sure those issues up now.

Chicago Blackhawks @ New York Islanders – January 3rd, 2019

Score – 3-2 Islanders (OT)

Player of the game – Devon Toews

Team Grade – B

The New York Islanders returned to Nassau Coliseum for the first game of 2019, in a battle with the Chicago Blackhawks.  The Isles went down 1-0 early but once again Mathew Barzal took the game over.  He scored baseball style on a swing and a hit right into the net in the first, then followed it up in the second with a PP goal from right in front.

Patrick Kane continues to own the Islanders as he scored his 14th point in his last 10 games against the Isles, and the game went to overtime despite the Islanders having 47 shots through three periods.  Rookie goaltender Colin Delia was excellent throughout the game, stopping 47 of 50 shots.

However, the true star of the game was the young defenseman that just got called up from Bridgeport.  His name is Devon Toews and he is not going anywhere, anytime soon.  Toews was able to zoom into the zone in overtime, catch a feed from Brock Nelson, shoot from the right point and slide his rebound through Delia’s legs.  It was the first goal of his NHL career and boy did it mean a lot.  It sent the Islanders home happy and the fans home even happier.

New York Islanders @ St. Louis Blues – January 5th, 2019

Score – 4-3 Islanders

Player of the game – Matt Martin

Team Grade – C-

The Islanders had absolutely no business winning this game in St. Louis, but they were able to pull off an upset after going down 2-0 in the first.  The Isles had absolutely nothing going for pretty much the first 40 minutes of the game, and the only saving grace was a goal from Matt Martin after a great feed from Casey Cizikas.

The Islanders turned on the jets in the third, getting two goals in 11 seconds from Jordan Eberle and Johnny Boychuk to take the lead.  Anders Lee was able to follow it up with a goal of his own, and that goal proved to be much needed.  Although the game seemed out of reach at that point, St. Louis made one final push at the end and got a late goal from Ryan O’Reilly to make it close.  It didn’t matter, as the Isles escaped with a win somehow.  It was one of the worst games the Isles played all season, but they won.

Carolina Hurricanes @ New York Islanders – January 8th, 2019

Score – 4-3 Hurricnaes

Player of the game – Brock Nelson

Team Grade – B-

The Hockey Gods giveth, the Hockey Gods taketh away.  After the Islanders won a game they had no business winning, they lost one they really should have won.  It was a sloppy game overall, but the Islanders played much better than the Hurricanes for most of the contest.

Brock Nelson gave the Nassau Coliseum fans something to cheer about with a late first period goal, but the ‘Canes followed it up immediately to tie it up.  A bad deflection off Adam Pelech’s skate gave the ‘Canes the lead with just six seconds left in the first.

Youngster Devon Toews tied it up early in the third to give the Islanders hope.  The Isles had a chance to take the lead with a late PP off of a bad Justin Williams hooking penalty, but they couldn’t convert and Williams went down the other end and scored with just two plus minutes to go.  A bad Leo Komarov penalty led to a Carolina PP goal to seal the game.  Brock Nelson scored with a minute left, but the comeback fell short and the Islanders lost a tough game to Carolina.

New York Islanders @ New York Rangers – January 10th, 2019

Score – 4-3 Islanders

Player of the game – Robin Lehner

Team Grade – D

If somehow the Islanders could play worse than they did in St. Louis and still win, this was the game to do it in.  The Isles played probably the worst third period I’ve ever seen them play, and they still won.  The Islanders gave up an early PPG to Ryan Strome in the first, then tied the game up on a beautiful Mathew Barzal breakaway and a Jordan Eberle score on the PP.

They gave the lead right back early in the second to Kevin Shattenkirk.  Anders Lee stormed right back with his own PPG and the Islanders looked like they were on their way to another victory.  Jesper Fast caught a break with a wild bouncing puck that popped up in the air and landed right on his stick and in.

The last minute and a half was a doozy.  Cal Clutterbuck was given almost the entire right side of the ice.  He was able to maneuver his way to the slot and feed Josh Bailey on a PERFECT tape to tape pass.  Bailey shot the puck into a wide open net past Henrik Lundqvist, and the rest is history.  The Islanders beat the Rangers for the 13th time in 15 games.  It was the first game of their home and home series this weekend.

New York Rangers @ New York Islanders – January 12th, 2019

Score – 2-1 Rangers

Player of the game – Anthony Beauvillier

Team Grade – C

The Islanders just don’t look right, and a lot of it has to do with the fact that Josh Ho-Sang is not on the team.  Talk about how overrated he is in this lineup all you want, but they absolutely cannot have that third line of Ross Johnston, Val Filppula, and Leo Komarov together.

The Islanders look like a mess right now.  They can’t lose games like this to teams like the Rangers if they have plans for the playoffs.  Anthony Beauvillier scored right after a PP in the second, but Filip Chytl came right back and tied it up for the Rangers after a sloppy play by Nick Leddy led to a semi-breakaway.

Mats Zuccarello scored with just over five minutes left to give the Rangers the GWG.  Val Filppula took a very dumb penalty with just over two minutes left, and the rest is history.  How quickly Barry Trotz brings Josh Ho-Sang back up is up to him and Lou Lamoriello, but with the Isles fading fast with their veterans making a ton of mistakes, it needs to be done soon.

The Islanders lost this game for two reasons;  Very undisciplined play, mostly by their veterans.  The main reason though was the complete lack of creativity on their six power play attempts.  They went 0-for-6 and looked lost out there for a lot of it.  Trotz needs to sit Komarov or Filppula down, bring Ho-Sang back up, and never play Luca Sbisa again.

 

The Islanders have still won 10 of their last 13, but they’ve lost two of their last four and they just don’t have the wiggle room to go on losing streaks.  They have another game Sunday against Tampa, which should be a loss, and then a home game against the Blues.  If they’re going to take a strangehold on this playoff spot, they need to win both games.  An effort like the most recent one against the Rangers is completely unacceptable.  They need to be better, flat out.

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