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Islanders Puck Talk – Weekly Review

So, is the sky still falling guys?  After an abysmal road trip, the New York Islanders came back at home and took it to the Washington Capitals.  It looks like a little bit of home cooking was all the Isles needed to get back on track.  It’s not always pretty, but it’s a long season and the Islanders should be just fine in the long run.  They still have played the least amount of home games in the Eastern Conference, and as long as they keep doing what they’ve been doing at Barclays Center, they’ll start to distance themselves from the rest of the division.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017 – @ Tampa Bay Lightning

I wouldn’t consider this the patented Dougie Blowout that we’ve gotten used to the past year and a half, but it definitely was not one of the Islanders better ones.  The first period started off with a very quick goal by Brayden Point at just 34 seconds.  Tampa controlled the entire first period and added another one on a good shot by Andrej Sustr.  The Lightning completely controlled pace for the first period and the Islanders could have been down 5-0 if not for Thomas Greiss.

The second period was all Islanders, as Mat Barzal and Jordan Eberle scored beauties back to back.  Barzal has looked almost unstoppable this year and the second line for the Islanders has been the best in the entire league.  Unfortunately, the wheels fell off in the last five minutes of the second period, with Yanni Gourde (noted Islander killer) scoring back to back goals and Vladislav Namestnikov finishing off the second period with a goal to make it 5-2.

Chris Kunitz put the game fully away with a goal in the third.  The Islanders had a chance in the second to make a push and keep it a close game, but once again the combination of poor goaltending and the inability to kill a power play thwarted that effort.

Lightning 6, Islanders 2

Thursday, December 7, 2017 – @ Pittsburgh Penguins

The Islanders went into Pittsburgh in a must-win situation, as they needed to at least split the four games in order for it to be a successful road trip.  Kris Letang scored early on a PPG (surprise, surprise) but it was a well-paced game through the first.

Jordan Eberle mounted a quick comeback as the Islanders tied it at one, and going into the third there was a real shot that the Islanders could pull away and sneak a victory against the Penguins.

The third period started off well for the Islanders, but the Pens back-up goalie Jarry stood tall as the Islanders rush was all for naught.  Of course, Phil The Thrill Kessel scored halfway through the third with a beautiful snipe, and Pittsburgh pulled away with a goal just thirty seconds later by Riley Sheahan.  The Islanders are never out of a game however, and a furious effort in the last five minutes tied the game up with a five hole shot by Mat Barzal and a rebound putback by Brock Nelson gave the Islanders a huge point on the road.

The Islanders had plenty of opportunities to score in overtime, but Matt Hunwick ended the game with a dribbler in front of the net that went past Halak, after a battle in front with Josh Ho-Sang.  Not the best performance, but you have to take the points.

Penguins 4, Islanders 3

Saturday, December 9, 2017 – @ Boston Bruins

The Islanders played very well in Boston, but could get nothing past Tuukka Rask.  The first period was extremely frustrating as lots of power plays and missed opportunities meant nothing as the Islanders came away with zero goals.

The second period was more of the same, but the Islanders had a questionable penalty called on them and Jaroslav Halak let a harmless Brad Marchand shot go through his legs & into the net.  In such a tight game, that goal was a real backbreaker for the Islanders.

John Tavares got hit up high by Marchand but no penalty came of it, nor did a suspension hearing.  I should stop complaining but Tavares is the most disrespected superstar in the league.  Regardless, Jake Debrusk scored early in the third to essentially put the game away, and even though Anders Lee scored late to make it 2-1, the Bruins were giving the Islanders nothing and scored an empty net goal to put the game away.

Bruins 3, Islanders 1

Monday, December 11, 2017 – vs Washington Capitals

I’ve only said this a handful of times, but I really believe this is the most complete game the Islanders have played in a very long time.  The first period was a strong one, with Jason Chimera making a beautiful backhanded pass to Cal Clutterbuck who threw it at the net.  The rebound was gobbled up by Brock Nelson and he didn’t make a mistake, pushing it through the five hole of Braden Holtby.  Anders Lee thought he had the second goal of the game, but it was waved off for pushing Holtby’s pads into the net, along with the puck.  It was a ticky tacky call that at the end of the day didn’t matter.

The Islanders started the second period off SIZZLING hot, with Andrew Ladd capitalizing on a beautiful pass by Calvin de Haan to put one past Holtby, and John Tavares scoring on a wide open net after a beautiful feed by Josh Bailey.  The third goal of the game chased Holtby from the net, and Philip Grubauer took over.

The third period was more of the same, with the Islanders pushing the pace but never getting that all important fourth goal.  Dmitri Orlov scored on a 2-on-1 breakaway, but the game never looked to be in danger as the Islanders thwarted any attempt the Capitals had at a comeback and shut down every other opportunity.  It was by far the best game Jaroslav Halak has played, and it’s a shame the Islanders couldn’t have gotten him the shutout.

Islanders 3, Capitals 1

High Tide

Brock Nelson is as streaky of a goal scorer as they come, but when he’s on he’s on.  He’s had three goals in five games & every time he touches the puck he could score.  He’s been much stronger on the puck, more responsible defensively, and he finally has a little bite to his game.  The third line overall has been much better over the past half dozen games or so.

Low Tide

The Penalty Kill up until tonight was atrocious, giving up PPG in their last seven games.  Coming into tonight the Islanders were 30th in the league on the PK, with a 72.8% PK percentage.  It improved slightly tonight, bringing them up to 73.4%, but that’s still two percentage points lower than the 29th team in the league.  If the Islanders are going to make a deep run in the playoffs, better goaltending & a better PK HAVE to be at the forefront of a successful team.

Like I said before, minus the Florida game the Islanders looked completely lost on their road trip.  They showed good resiliency getting a point out of the Pittsburgh game, but they need to split these road trips and not go on prolonged slides.  The Metropolitan Division is the greatest division on the league, with just four points separating the top six teams in the division.  If the Islanders are going to make the playoffs, they need to win their games at home and play .500 on the road.

Make sure to send a follow my way @SupRos22 & follow @DoubleGSports for all your sports coverage.  The Isles have another big game against the Dallas Stars on Wednesday, and hopefully they can string together a nice winning streak at home.

 

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