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Islanders Puck Talk – Weekly Review

The New York Islanders have had yet another up and down week, but they ended the week with two big wins against the Philadelphia Flyers and Arizona Coyotes.  After two games in which they got the doors blown off, they needed those two wins desperately.

Boston Bruins @ New York Islanders – March 19th, 2019

Score – 5-0 Bruins

Player of the game – None

Team Grade – F

This was the worst game the Islanders played all season.  After losing six straight to the Boston Bruins over the past two seasons, a lot of people kind of expected them to have a tough matchup.  The thing about Boston is that they’re both extremely physical and extremely skilled.  They’re a matchup nightmare for the Isles, and it showed all game.

The Islanders got off to a rough start when Sean Kuraly’s shot at the beginning of the period went off Robin Lehner’s glove and in.  Lehner was in for a rough night, as he gave up five goals on 39 shots.  To make matters worse, the Islanders had 13 shots the entire game.  There was nothing good about this game and one of the few true clunkers the Islanders have had all season.

New York Islanders @ Montreal Canadiens – March 21st, 2019

Score – 4-0 Canadiens

Player of the game – Robin Lehner

Team Grade – D+

This effort wasn’t much better against the Canadiens, but at least they fired 28 shots on net rather than 13.  The first period was actually pretty solid and then as par for the course the Islanders took a late penalty and it came to bite them in the butt.  Joel Armia scored with seven seconds left and that late goal seemed to take the wind out of the Islanders’ sails.

Things didn’t get any better for them as Montreal scored immediately in the second off a Shea Weber clapper.  Montreal scored two more in the second and Thomas Greiss was replaced by Robin Lehner.  Lehner stopped all 11 shots he faced, but the Islanders once again couldn’t muster any offense.

New York Islanders @ Philadelphia Flyers – March 23rd, 2019

Score – 4-2 Islanders

Player of the game – Josh Bailey

Team Grade – B-

The Islanders had dropped two straight bad games and they were on their way to play a team they’ve had trouble with over the past couple of weeks.  It wasn’t pretty but the Islanders were able to find a way to salvage a win.  The Flyers struck in the first but Brock Nelson swatted a puck out of the air after about five minutes of strong Islander play to tie the game.

Nick Leddy took a great Mathew Barzal feed in the slot and buried it to give the Isles a 2-1 lead.  Unfortunately, the Islanders took ANOTHER untimely penalty and within four seconds of the PP the game was tied again.  All looked to be lost but unsung hero Josh Bailey scored two goals in the last four minutes of the game to seal the deal.  Bailey’s second goal was off a nice feed from Leo Komarov, who was been absent from the scoresheet for quite a while.

Arizona Coyotes @ New York Islanders – March 24th, 2019

Score – 2-0 Islanders

Player of the game – Robin Lehner

Team Grade – A-

Although the Islanders may not have necessarily played their best game, they had a very solid effort against a desperate and hungry Coyotes team.  This was another one of those games where they played the typical Islanders style;  Boring, methodical, grind it out hockey.  They only had 26 shots but they made them count, including a Jordan Eberle goal off a Nick Leddy rebound shot.

There was no scoring in the second and the Coyotes tried to gain some momentum with a PP midway through the period, but Tanner Fritz gave the Islanders a renewed energy with his play on the PK.  Fritz was a one man show, bringing the puck 200 feet, then 140 feet back to keep the Coyotes off the puck.  Brock Nelson sealed the game with a great wraparound goal that barely got over the goal line and had to be reviewed.  Robin Lehner was excellent, making 31 saves and pitching his 5th shutout of the season.  Both he and Thomas Greiss have five shutouts each, and the ten combined is the most by the Islanders ever.

 

The Islanders’ style of hockey is not supposed to be pretty.  Sure sometimes the team looks ugly, like against Boston and Montreal, but at the end of the day the Isles now sit one point out of first place and with a magic number of 6 to make the playoffs.  If you had told me they’d be in this position at the beginning of the season, I wouldn’t have believed you.

This team is still very flawed and they’re going to continue to have a tough time scoring goals but all that matters is that they keep finding ways to win.  Whether it be a 6-1 lopsided victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs or a 2-0 shutout of the Arizona Coyotes, the Islanders continue to grind every single game.  That’s their identity and that’s what they’re good at.  With just six games left, we’re coming down to the real home stretch before playoffs.

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