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Islanders Puck Talk – Weekly Review (We’re Going Streaking!!!)

As Frank the Tank eloquently stated in ‘Old School’, “We’re going streaking!”.  While the New York Islanders may not be parading through the quad in their birthday suits, they have won five games in a row, all against Metropolitan Division opponents.  They are now 6-0-0 in the Metro, tops in the division and their best start since 1982-83.  That team was pretty good.  This team isn’t nearly as talented, but they’re doing all the right things right now.

New York Islanders @ Philadelphia Flyers – October 27th, 2018

Score – 6-1 Islanders

Player of the game – Anders Lee

Team Grade – A

The New York Islanders continued their strange schedule with a mini-trip to Philadelphia for a Saturday matinee.  The Isles were firing on all cylinders for the entire game.  Philadelphia has traditionally been a very tough place for New York to play, but the Islanders scored early and often, overpowering and overwhelming the Flyers.

Leo Komarov and Anthony Beauvillier scored much needed goals in the first period to get the Islanders off to a good start.  Beau had been held scoreless up until this point, so having him be able to get off the snide thanks to his linemates Jordan Eberle and Mathew Barzal was a welcomed sight.

Brock Nelson continued his torrid October with a goal in the second and in the third, and Adam Pelech and Anders Lee finished off the scoring to ensure the rout was on.  Jori Lehtera scored the loan goal for the Flyers, but the game was well out of reach even if his goal cut the deficit to two in the second period.

This was one of the more complete games the Islanders played, mostly because they stifled the Flyers on all three ends of the ice.  They scored at will, kept the puck away from their own end, and didn’t make any mental mistakes to bring the Flyers back into the game.

New York Islanders @ Carolina Hurricanes – October 28th, 2018

Score – 2-1 Islanders

Player of the game – Thomas Greiss

Team Grade – B+

The Islanders went back to work the very next day, going from Philly to Carolina for a mid-afternoon tilt with the Hurricanes.  The Islanders have had one of the strangest schedules of any team I’ve ever seen, so having back-to-back afternoon games seems a bit unfair.  Regardless, the Islanders took it all in stride and won another game on the road.

Anders Lee started the scoring off early with a Power Play goal in the first period.  The game was a bit slow but the Islanders kept all shots from Carolina away from the slot and Thomas Greiss made 38 saves in another great effort.  Greiss would win a Vezina trophy if they played in Carolina every game.

Teuvo Teravainen knotted it up at one in the second, but a beautiful spin-o-rama goal by Ryan Pulock gave the Islanders the lead for good.  Pulock took a great feed by Anders Lee (who else?), spun around to get onto his forehand and fired one in for the game winning goal.  This game was a little more methodical than the game in Philly, but the result was the same.

New York Islanders @ Pittsburgh Penguins – October 30th, 2018

Score – 6-3 Islanders

Player of the game – Jordan Eberle

Team Grade – C- for first period, A- for second and third periods

The Islanders are very lucky that they were able to get ahead quick on the Penguins 2-0, because the way they played the first period they could have easily lost this game 5-0.  Two quick goals by Andrew Ladd and Brock Nelson (Brocktober ain’t over yet) gave way to two even quicker goals by Dominik Simon and Sidney Crosby.  It was one of the worst periods the Isles have played all season, and they are very lucky to have been tied after one.

The game was wide open but the Islanders took advantage of every opportunity they had.  They legitimately scored five goals on their first ten shots.  They were shooting 50% from the ice and chased Matt Murray out of the net after Matt Martin’s snipe and a pair of Jordan Eberle goals, including one on the Power Play.

The Isles had a three goal lead in the third but Evgeni Malkin made things a bit interesting with a very quick goal to start the period off.  However, New York weathered the storm and former Penguin great Tom Kuhnhackl scored his first of the season off a deflection in front of the net.  The Islanders extended their winning streak to three against a very tough Penguins team.  Unfortunately, they also lost Robin Lehner during the game thanks to back spasms.  He was replaced at the beginning of the third period.  Thomas Greiss gave up the Malkin goal on his first shot faced, but whipped himself into form and was steady through the rest of the third period.

Pittsburgh Penguins @ New York Islanders – November 1st, 2018

Score – 3-2 Islanders (SO)

Player of the game – Thomas Greiss

Team Grade – B+

After what felt like an eternity, the Islanders returned home for the second leg of a home and home with the Penguins.  Thomas Greiss started again with the injury to Robin Lehner, and was exceptional with 29 saves.  Dominik Simon scored in the first period.

The second period was absolutely wild, as the Islanders turned a man advantage into an eventual two man disadvantage.  The Islanders were killing a penalty on a 4-on-3, a 5-on-3 and a normal 5-on-4 when Casey Cizikas fed a streaking Josh Bailey a perfect pass off the boards.  Bailey had a breakaway and buried it past Matt Murray, tying the game at one and ensuring that the only goal that was being scored on the Power Play was a shorthanded one.

Anders Lee powered his team to a lead in the third with a goal, but the Islanders inability to stay out of the penalty box finally caught up with them.  Evgeni Malkin was able to squeeze one past Thomas Greiss, one that Greiss probably wanted back.  He more than made up for it later in the game.

The game made it to overtime and there were a ton of back and forth chances, but the most prominent was Sidney Crosby’s breakaway after an errant pass by Mathew Barzal.  Thomas Greiss bailed the young forward out with a spectacular poke check on Crosby to keep the game tied.

Josh Bailey scored the only goal in the shootout, and the Islanders beat the Penguins in back to back games for the first time in what feels like decades.  Thomas Greiss was the start of the game once again, and Josh Bailey upped his point streak to seven games.

New Jersey Devils @ New York Islanders – November 3rd, 2018

Score – 3-0 Islanders

Player of the game – Thomas Greiss (again)

Team Grade – A

The weekend ended with a bang, as the Islanders shut out the New Jersey Devils and Thomas Greiss thrust himself into Vezina consideration (no seriously).  Greiss made 35 stops and had his second shutout of the week.  It’s clearly a testament to goaltending guru Mitch Korn that both Greiss and Robin Lehner have been outstanding so far this season.

Greiss was excellent and the Islanders played great defense in front of him all night.  Jordan Eberle scored on the Power Play in the first period, Brock Nelson buried one past Keith Kincaid in the third period, and Scott Mayfield shot one from way downtown on an empty net to put the game completely out of reach.

The Islanders now have a five game winning streak, and have been excellent of late.  They’ve given up the least amount of goals in the Eastern Conference and are building something.  They don’t have the talent level to compete for a Stanley Cup this season, but they have a chance to make some noise.

 

Barry Trotz must be over the moon seeing how his team has responded after a dejecting loss to the Panthers just a few weeks ago.  Winning five straight and starting off on the right foot within the division is exactly what the Islanders needed.  They are now in sole possession of first place, and although there are many hills to climb still, they’ve passed many tough tests.  Let’s hope they can sustain this energy and flow for the rest of the season.

 

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