The New York Islanders are struggling. Winning games has not come easy recently. If they are to stay in contention for a wild-card spot, they need to win key games. They front-loaded their record of 23-19-4 by winning a lot in the first two months of the season. Since the first day of December, the Islanders have been in a significant slump. Winning only eight of 22 games. Keeping with the defensemen assisting in the attacking zone plan the Islanders defence allows huge amounts of shots on goal. In a recent 5 – 4 overtime win against the Montreal Canadiens the team allowed 52 shots. That is an NHL career-high number for the Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss. While that number is concerning the other part of the story is that the Islanders again blew a multi-goal lead. These situations are not new. They have haunted the Islanders all season.
Few Bright Spots As The New York Islanders Struggle To Win Games
Doug Weight Shuffling Players
With diminishing returns from some top line players and mounting injuries coach Weight began the player call-up and line shuffle. To the surprise of many, he placed Alan Quine, recently called up from Bridgeport on the first line with captain John Tavares. That experiment failed to initiate a change on that line and as such Quine is a healthy scratch going into tonight’s matchup against the red-hot Boston Bruins. Joshua Ho-Sang was up earlier in the season and was sent back down for more development. He is dynamic, but he turns the puck over too often in the defensive zone. Many fans await his return with high expectations. That said the Islanders do not have a problem putting the puck in the net this season. They have a problem stopping the opposing team from putting shots on goal.
Injuries Cost The Islanders
The Islanders are no stranger to injuries this season. The team began the year with a long-term injury to Nikolai Kulemin. His absence did not impact the Islanders on offence, but the Islanders miss his ability to break up plays in the neutral and attacking zones. Also missing from the Islanders for large parts of the season has been defenseman Johnny Boychuk, centre Casey Cizikas, and winger Andrew Ladd. Wins are measured in goals of course, which the Islanders have proven they can score. With that comes the need to grind out periods to get the win. Many of these injuries are not best measured in their stats, but their collective ability to grind out minutes to achieve a win. That has been missing from the Islanders for a while. All of these players were on the ice for this morning’s skate. Hopefully, they will return to their respective lines soon as the Islanders try to stay in the wild-card hunt.
Bright Spots In A Long Season
Barzal is that once in a long time talent that gets people talking. His stickhandling, edgework, and playmaking make fans across the NHL. Thus far this season, we have nine games in which a player has scored five points. Barzal notched two of those games. At this moment he is the favourite for the Calder Trophy. His points tally (47) places him behind only Tavares (54) and Josh Bailey (50) a lofty place for a rookie on one of the NHL’s most productive offences. Look for Barzal to be a finalist, if not the winner, in the Calder chase this season.
Fresh off of a career year in 2017 Bailey picked up right where he left off. He leads the Islanders with 38 assists and netted 12 goals if his own. His play has been so consistent that he earned his first All-Star invite. He and Tavares will represent the team at the 2017 NHL All-Star Game. Unfortunately, his lower-body injury sidelined him for a short time in January. His absence the past four games was felt by the Islanders as they struggled for setups and puck retention in the attacking zone. His strength is his ability for both primary and secondary assists. These create chances and add continuity to the Islanders offence. In an interview with Newsday Weight said of Bailey and the other injured players, “Bails is feeling pretty good,” and continued “We’ll get him on the ice tomorrow and see how he feels. He’s the only one [who could play] anywhere into this week.” Bailey is bound to factor into the Islanders attack against the Bruins tonight.
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