Top Shelf – Islanders Daily 3/17/14

Mar 14, 2014; Uniondale, NY, USA; New York Islanders center

Anders Lee

(27) high fives the bench after his goal during the second period against the San Jose Sharks at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

No, John Tavares, no problem, I suppose.

Through the New York Islanders’ first nine games following their captain’s season-ending knee injury, Long Island’s hockey team has been firing on all cylinders. Averaging 3.44 goals since NHL hockey returned from the Olympic break, the Islanders have actually been on a higher scoring pace than they were the 60 games pre-Sochi (2.73 GPG). Perhaps the Islanders’ offense is in better shape than most thought.

Next season, Ryan Strome and Anders Lee, two of the key contributors to the team’s current offense, should be expected to play an integral role on the team’s front line. Lee (6 goals, 4 assists through 9 games) and Strome (3 goals, 3 assists through 9 games since the break) have played well in their own rights. Throw Tavares into the mix, and the Islanders can count on primary and secondary scoring to lead this offense among the league’s bests.

Of course, this doesn’t solve the back-end issues, but it’s a positive development for this hockey team, that watched several of its core offensive pieces falter in 2013-14, to have its young players performing at this high of a level.

In case you missed it:

Around the NHL:

  • Philadelphia Flyers 4, Pittsburgh Penguins 3: PHI (B. Schenn, Simmonds [2], Read), PIT (Orpik, Niskanen, Megna) – Marc-Andre Fleury was chased 13:41 into the first period, and the Flyers swept the home-and-home series against their top rivals.
  • Vancouver Canucks 4, Florida Panthers 3 SO: VAN (Hamhuis, Jensen, Burrows, Jensen SO Winner), FLA (Hayes [2], Trocheck) – Roberto Luongo made 29 saves in his first game against the Canucks since being traded on March 4, but his team fell short in the shootout, after tying the game with 1:35 to go.
  • Washington Capitals 4, Toronto Maple Leafs 2: WSH (Brouwer [2], Chimera, Ward), TOR (Bodie, Phaneuf) – The Capitals scored three unanswered goals in the game’s opening 8:44, and then held off a late comeback by the Maple Leafs.
  • Edmonton Oilers 2, Carolina Hurricanes 1: EDM (Hendricks, J Schultz), CAR (J. Staal) – The Oilers improved to 9-4-2 over their past 15 games. Ben Scrivens made 29 saves for the win.
  • San Jose Sharks 1, New York Rangers 0: SJS (Couture) – Logan Couture scored a highlight-reel, shorthanded goal in the middle of the first period, and Antti Niemi stopped all 41 shots to defeat the Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
  • Colorado Avalanche 3, Ottawa Senators 1: COL (Benoit, Holden, Mitchell), OTT (Zibanejad) – Semyon Varlamov made 38 saves for his league-leading 34th win of the season, but fell six seconds short of his second shutout of the season.
  • Montreal Canadiens 2, Buffalo Sabres 0: MTL (Weise, Gallagher) – Thomas Vanek returned to Buffalo to a standing ovation, and Dustin Tokarski, appearing in his 10th NHL game, made 29 saves for his first NHL shutout.
  • Chicago Blackhawks 4, Detroit Red Wings 1: CHI (Leddy, Smith, Hossa, Toews), DET (Nyquist) – The Blackhawks used four different scorers to defeat their ex-Central Division rivals in Chicago.
  • Winnipeg Jets 7, Dallas Stars 2: WPG (Trouba, Frolik, Enstrom, Jokinen, Byfuglien [2], Kane), DAL (Chiasson, Seguin) – The Jets piled it on Tim Thomas and Cristopher Nilstorp, scoring seven goals to gain ground on the Stars. Tyler Seguin reached the 30-goal plateau for the first time in his career.

Across the Sound:

The Bridgeport Sound Tigers brought home two points on Sunday, defeating the Adirondack Phantoms 5-4. Jeremy Langlois scored recorded his first two professional goals, including the game-winning goal. Andrew Clark, Alan Quine and Scooter Vaughan rounded out the scoring. Former Islanders goalie Yann Danis allowed all five goals for the Phantoms, while Kevin Poulin made 24 saves for his first win of the season.

-CT (@christriants)