Today is the first day of the rest of the New York Islanders’ season. And no, the hype surrounding the team is not what it was in October.
Owing to poor play from November onward, the impending trades of UFAs-to-be Andrew MacDonald and Thomas Vanek, and a season-ending knee injury to captain John Tavares, the Isles will begin their 22-game season-ending stretch with considerably less optimism than what was generated by last year’s playoff berth.
The Islanders (22-30-8, 52 pts) are 14 points behind the final Eastern Conference wild card spot and have six teams ahead of them in the standings, all of which hold one or two games in hand. The season is, for all intents and purposes, over.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t reasons to watch Isles games from here on out. Recent call-ups Mike Halmo, Anders Lee, and Ryan Strome are all on Long Island, ready to showcase their talents—Halmo for the first time—in the absence of Matt Martin, Frans Nielsen, and Tavares, all of whom are out due to injury.
And while the presence of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers’ top line in the Islanders dressing room won’t earn the big club a postseason berth in 2014, it might herald the coming of future playoff series to be played by the Islanders.
Am I grasping at straws? Maybe. I prefer to call it “getting in on the ground floor.” (There’s plenty of room here.)
In Case You Missed It
New York Islanders Tweets Of The Week (Eyes On Isles)
Islanders Trade Deadline Preview: Potential Arrivals (Isles Optimism)
Report: Isles Seek First-Rounder In MacDonald Trade Talks (Pro Hockey Talk)
Across The Sound
The Bridgeport Sound Tigers (25-24-1-4) are without their top line of Lee, Strome, and Halmo, but hope to continue their six-game winning streak despite facing the potential lack of scoring the players’ departures could bring.
Bridgeport begins a three-game weekend slate tomorrow night on the road against the Providence Bruins before returning home to Webster Bank Arena to face the Worcester Sharks on Saturday and the Utica Comets on Sunday.
As always, thanks for reading Eyes On Isles. Keep it right here for all your New York Islanders news, notes and analysis.