UNIONDALE, N.Y.– The Islanders pulled the rug right out from under the Jets (and Rangers) last night, as a dominating team effort bore witness to a decisive home victory. With solid overall play on both sides of the hockey spectrum, and an consistent energy level and a desire to win, the New York Islanders defeat the Winnipeg Jets 5-3 in front of 11,000+ fans. That’s right: 11,000. Come on Isles fans: 7th in the division, playing some the best hockey as of late in the East, with one of the premiere talents in all of hockeydom in John Tavares? Let’s show some spirit and go to more game and give these boys the shot in the arm they need to make it into the next round.
The New York Islanders (18-16-3) find themselves in the most opportune of situations. In fact, if you’re the Devils, you’re not worried, you’re downright terrified, for what looked to be a lock (or, at the most, a tenuous hold) on a playoff spot, is anything but. Moreover, for all intents and purposes, the Devils could be in 9th place if both New York squads continue beating their opponents as soundly as they have these past few days.
But if I was a betting man, even at the risk of sounding biased, the Islanders look to me to be sure money. And stop being superstitious: the Islanders have arrived and if you think talking about potential wins will cost them the playoffs I have some advice for you: 1. get your head examined because you’re obviously paranoid or maybe severely self-centered–(yeah, that’s right, just because you sit in front of the TV at a 45 degree angle or NOT speak a word or phrase at a given moment. Yeah, THAT’S the reason the Islanders haven’t made the playoffs these past few years.) 2. You don’t believe in talent.
Luck is the art of design. It’s time we all faced a stark reality, a reality both local teams saw in clear HD television last night: the Islanders have arrived. And I don’t mean for a season. Not anymore. We’ve got a team now and they’re gelling at the exact time needed.
So, as the New York Rangers scramble to buy up what’s left of the market (the Ryane Clowe trade is a good example of a desperate Rangers team; the trade may be a good one in the long run, but there’s a bit of a problem: as it stands, Colin McDonald has more goals than Clowe. That’s how good the Islanders are at present, and how bad Clowe has been of late.)
Mark your calendars, say your prays, sacrifice whatever it is you sacrifice to the hockey gods, sit at whatever position in front of the boob tube you choose, wear that smelly sock to the game, etc. because the matchup against the New York Rangers April 13th may very well be the most significant contest these two teams have had in over a decade.
As of this morning, the New York Islanders’s magic number is 6, and with Washington, Tampa Bay, and Philadelphia on the slate, a 6 point run is definitely not out of the realm of possibility; the key is to face a Bruins squad knowing that if you lose, you’re still very much in control of your destiny. In no way am I saying that the Islanders cannot beat anyone in the division, but I will say that of all the teams the Islanders are to face within then next ten days, the Bruins are the most formidable. That said, taking a look at what’s left for the season, the Islanders truly have no excuses for not making the playoffs.
The Islanders’s first line brought forth most of the energy at the game’s onset, with a streaking and frenetic Matt Moulson racking up 3 SOG within the first five minutes, all legitimate opportunities and all stopped one way or another. His diligence would pay dividends later on in the contest, but rest assured, Moulson was a beast on the ice last night. Kudos for reemerging when your team most needs you.
But the first goal would come from much-talked about and newly-inked Anders Lee, who fired a blind wrist shot past a bewildered and equally blind Ondrej Pavelec to give the former Irishman his first notch as an NHLer and the Isles first lead of the evening.
Lee shows some promise on the forecheck, as his size and speed are well balanced, but as time progressed, in fact not more than 2 minutes after his goal, it became apparent that this young man obviously needs to adjust to the speed and strength needed on NHL backcheck duties. Too many holds, one of which lead to a delayed penalty and a goal, but not before missing his mark and allowing for Paul Postma of all people to tie it up at the 18:06 mark of the first:
If you follow Lee’s play on this particular goal, you’ll see that he has tremendous problems catching up to Postma, attempting to keep up with the more aggressive Jets defensemen by tying up, or trying desperately in tying up, his hands. But in his defense, Kevin Poulin should have come out from his crease and jump on the puck, or have done something more to break up the rebound.
The first period ended in a draw, seeing the Islanders outshooting the Jets 12-9.
Second period action initially belonged to Postma and the Jets, as they would score the go-ahead at the time, capitalizing, as it were, on another of Lee’s failed backcheck assignments, this time on LW Eric Tangradi, who was able to break free and fire a pass cross ice to the pinching defensemen to give the Jets the lead:
Travis Hamonic also didn’t help things by missing his mark, as well.
But in all, the Islanders should consider it a viable move in signing Lee: his rookie mind will eventually catch up with his NHL size and speed (on the forecheck.) Patience is key. And imagine, if you will, a team with Strome, Nino, Reinhart, and now Lee all in their prime. Not to mention a seasoned Casey Cizikas (who, by the way, is simply so good right now I want to cry!) Oh did I mention, Moulson, Tavares, Martin, Nielsen, and Grabner. Think about the damage this team can do come Barclays once they all come together like we all know they can and will.
People, this isn’t shoptalk anymore. There’s a real team here in front of us. Excited doesn’t even begin to describe what I’m feeling right about now….but I digress.
Although down by one, the Islanders awoke and never looked back, scoring 4 unanswered goals in what remained of the contest.
Colin McDonald would tie things up 3 minutes after Postma’s second of the evening, off a wonderful blind pass by Michael Grabner, as the Islanders’s secondary scoring keeps lighting the lamp and getting us further into playoff territory:
Most everyone can agree that the middle of the Islanders squad has arrived to the show in time to save the day, and now as a fan, we no longer wait for JT to get back on the ice, but now see Cizikas and say, okay, we definitely can score here.
And let’s not forget Frans Nielsen, whose been lighting it up as of late, 7 SOG, 1 G, and 2 A in the last three. Not to mention all his hustle inside his own zone. Definitely playing like a leader on that line. Good job, Frans.
And thus, it is Nielsen who would score the game winner on the Power Play, a blazing, angry shot that came about off a fortuitous rebound that he buried into a gaping net. With that goal, the Islanders now own the 7th best Power Play in the NHL. And with that goal, as well, the Islanders take a lead and a considerable amount of the momentum into the locker room, preparing for a third period that would be all there’s for the taking.
And sure enough, the evening’s most savored goal for my money was Matt Moulson‘s at the 18:00 of the third–a well-deserved, well-earned and equally reassuring notch that will surely bring about dividends in the days to come:
Good to see Moulson relieved and pumped for what will be a productive set of games for this burgeoning talent.
John Tavares adds another notch to his belt as well, with an empty netter and that was that.
The New York Islanders are tied for 7th. How do you like that?!
Both the Devils and Rangers play tonight, so keep your eyes peeled for that.
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I hope all of you enjoy our little takes on the game and team we love dearly, because rest assured we three love sharing our passion with all of you. But let’s seriously consider heading out to the Coli at least once more, regardless of what happens to this team. These boys are playing their hearts out for us, the least we can offer them is a good cheer for all the excitement they’ve brought us. It’s never easy being an Islanders’s fan, but there’s no alternative as far as I’m concerned.
I bleed Blue and Orange. I love these guys. No matter what, they’re a legitimate team and only a matter of time before the glory days are upon us.
All the best,