Top Shelf – Islanders Daily 1/9/14

Jan 7, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New York Islanders left wing

Josh Bailey

(12) celebrates with goalie

Kevin Poulin

(60) after defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-3 at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

I think I’ve figured out the New York Islanders, and it only took me 45 games of the 2013-14 NHL season to do so.

The Isles are a team with a split personality. That’s the only solution. It’s the only answer to the question of how a team can suffer through a 4-10-1 stretch, then rattle off a 6-2-0 run in the same calendar year with their only two losses coming by a single goal each.

Maybe the split-personality thing was already apparent to everyone else who follows this team, but it finally hit home with me after Tuesday night’s 5-3 road win over the Toronto Maple Leafs.

It was a game in which the Islanders went down a goal in the first six minutes (“Here we go again”); got a late-period goal that went their way instead of the other team’s (“Wait a minute…”); staked themselves to a lead in the second frame (“Hey, this could be good”); then fought like hell to stay in front until the clock hit 00:00 at the end of the third period (“I KNEW THESE GUYS HAD IT IN THEM”).

Both identities were on display Tuesday night: the oh-so-typical Islanders—you know, the team that incites more Twitter riots than any other—made their appearance first. But then, the new-and-improved Islanders—or should I say the classic April-of-2013 Islanders—showed up and showed up quick.

Not only was it a road win, but it was a decisive road win. As pointed out by Newsday’s Arthur Staple, there were more than a few similarities between Tuesday’s victory and a certain April win in Toronto not so long ago.

And don’t look now, but the Islanders have more points than four other NHL teams. Which, you know, is sort of an accomplishment for a team that spent all of November and half of December shooting itself in the foot.

Then again maybe it was that other team doing all the foot-shooting, and this new team is here to stay. And if that’s true, it’d be enough to make Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde jealous.

-MW (@MichaelWillhoft)

In Case You Missed It

Ryan Strome Scores First NHL Goal (Eyes On Isles)

Islanders’ Tavares Named To Canadian Olympic Team (Eyes On Isles)

Second Half Surge: Who Needs To Be The Catalyst (Eyes On Isles)

Isles Rookies Show Flashes Of Promise (Eyes On Isles)

New York Islanders Tweets Of The Week (Eyes On Isles)

It’s Time To Re-Sign Thomas Vanek (Eyes On Isles)

Last Night In The NHL

Canadiens 1
Flyers 3

Rangers 3
Blackhawks 2

Senators 3
Avalanche 4 (OT)

Across The Sound

The Bridgeport Sound Tigers (13-18-1-4) are fourth in the AHL’s Northeast Division and 14th in the Eastern Conference.

It’s been a trying season for the farm team, but it was expected that the club would struggle without its best player—Ryan Strome—its no. 1 goaltender for stretches—Anders Nilsson—and now its most highly touted defensive prospect—Calvin de Haan.

On the bright side, all three of the aforementioned players have had positive impacts at the NHL level, which is exactly what Isles general manager Garth Snow had in mind all along.

As always, thanks for reading Eyes On Isles. Keep it right here for all your New York Islanders news, notes and analysis.