Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
The Islanders most recent slide, 3 wins in their previous 10 games, combined with the results of last night, now has the team uncomfortably sitting 10 points out of both third place in the Metropolitan division (-2 games in hand) and the same exact total out of the final wild card berth (-1 game in hand).
With only three games remaining before the 2 1/2 week long Olympic break and then finishing up with 22 games, the chances are becoming all the more likely that it’s back to sitting out the 16 team tournament for the Stanley Cup when April rolls around.
What has to be most crucial for the Islanders now is developing their young talent. In all probability, Kevin Poulin will not be around next season if things go right for general manager Garth Snow this summer. The priority you would think will be a #1 goaltender capable of carrying the team the next 5-7 years with Evgeni Nabokov signing another bridge deal as a backup.
On defense, Calvin deHaan and Matt Donovan must stay with the big club and gain valuable playing time and experience that should secure their places in the top 6 for next season and beyond. Maybe even give Scott Mayfield an 8 game run in April just to let him have a taste as well.
Forward speaking, if Ryan Strome‘s hand injury turns out to be only a temporary setback in the uber-prospect’s development, a recall is also in order after the Olympic break. The general feeling is that Anders Lee will remain in Bridgeport under Scott Pellerin‘s tutelage for the season.
The next biggest question facing Snow will be what to do with the conditional draft pick traded away in the Thomas Vanek deal. Currently, New York would pick 5th and are 9 points away from climbing out of the top 10. If they stay in the single digits, that pick can be deferred to 2015.
It was just unthinkable back in the summer that we would be having these discussions with 25 games remaining in a season that held so much promise. But so is life in the National Hockey League these days. You are only as good as your current record, not any of your past success.
In Case You Missed It
- Contributor Tom Ballantyne throws his January power rankings out there (EOI)
- Dan Petriw of Hockey Buzz with his thoughts on the free fall (Hockey Buzz)
- Chris McNally with a look back at how the Isles season started and ended within the division (LHH)
- Adam Rotter says all eyes are on the Rangers and their trade potential (SNY)
- Puck Daddy with their three stars of a busy Saturday night (Yahoo)
Around the NHL
SATURDAY FEBRUARY 1, 2014 – FINAL GAMES
Across The Sound
Anders Nilsson was spectacular last night, stopping 24 shots as the Tigers killed 13 penalties to defeat the Falcons 3-0. That’s 5 of 6 for the baby Islanders as they continue to show some life late in the season.
The Sound Tigers have two home games next weekend and will host the Albany Devils Saturday night before the Adirondack Phantoms come to Webster Bank Arena Sunday afternoon. (c/o Soundtigers.com)