NY Islanders News

Westward bound

By Gary Harding

Sitting at JFK waiting to get on my flight to the west coast.   This is my first ‘road trip’ in a while.  I do not call the Florida ones road trips, because it is a blip in my timeshare stay.  This is a real excursion.  I am going to all three games on this trip – Vancover, Anaheim, and Los Angeles.  I am looking forward to some sun, some time with my beautiful wife, and also some time to see my sister and her husband in California as well.

As for the hockey team, what a nice weekend.  4 out of 4 points, and great play overall.  Kudus to Blake Comeau, who continues his stellar play with 3 helpers.  Richard Park get his second shortie for the Isles in consecutive games, and overall this team does not show any signs of letting up.  Thiswas a good momentum booster for this important three game trip.  Being with all Western Conference teams, there is no 4 point swing matches; just the chance to make up some ground.

That road, however, will be full of bumps and bruises.  Tuesday, Vancouver is the host, fresh off a 14 game road trip, going 8-5-1 and still holding their lead in the NorthWest Division.  Led by the Sedin twins, and Alex Burrows, their main unit has provided such an offensive spark.  Their second line features Mikael Samuelsson, who after finding out that he was not going to make the Swedish Olympic Team,gone on an absolute tear, and now has 30 goals on the season.  This is a team that will bang when it needs to, skate like the wind, and has a world class goalie in Roberto Luongo (remember him?).

Friday, it is the Ducks in Anaheim.  13th in the conference, they are still not a team to be taken lightly.  They still possess supreme firepower, and can open up a game quickly.  Their defense is just not the same, but they have Hiller in net – and that can be a tough situation for the Isles to deal with.

Saturday – Los Angeles.  The real surprising Kings, with Jonathan Quick in net – leading the NHL in victories this season.  Their offense is not in the top of the league, but they get contributions from all four lines.  The Kings really have the chance to make some headway in the playoffs, and can surprise many.

The Islanders have their chance to make a step, but they MUST play three SOLID games, against some strong Western teams.  They can not have their guard down for even a minute, or they will get burned.  The next report will be after the Canucks game on Tuesday night.

Have a great day folks!