Preview: Islanders Host Sharks

By Noah Reiss

Mar 14, 2014; Uniondale, NY, USA; New York Islanders right wing Kyle Okposo (21) watches his pass in front of San Jose Sharks defenseman Jason Demers (5) at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

After coming off a thrilling 6-3 victory over the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden, the New York Islanders hope to bring the momentum back to Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum when they take on the San Jose Sharks on Thursday night. Both teams are currently undefeated with a record of 3-0-0.

The Sharks opened up their season with a commanding 4-0 victory over the defending Stanley Cup Champion Kings in Los Angeles, spoiling the raising of the Kings’ Stanley Cup banner. The Sharks have received superb goaltending getting shutouts from goalies Alex Stalock and Antti Niemi. Veterans Patrick Marleau and Joe Thorton, as well as 26 year-old forward Tommy Wingels lead the Sharks. Wingels has been on fire to start the year, recording 3 goals and a total of 4 points.

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The Islanders are led by John Tavares and 2nd year player Brock Nelson who is tied for the NHL lead in points with 7. The Islanders need to continue to put the puck in the net as they have done so to start the season, scoring 15 goals in 3 games. The Islanders defense has also been noticeably better with the additions of Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy who are both off to excellent starts with the team. The one problem has been the defensive pairing of Griffin Reinhart and Brian Strait. Reinhart is clearly not ready to be playing at the NHL level, but he hasn’t been helped by playing with a below-average defenseman in Brian Strait.

The most interesting matchup in this game will be the Sharks’ power play against the Islanders’ penalty kill. The Sharks are off to a rough start on the power play as they have only recorded 2 goals in 15 attempts, and the Islanders’ penalty kill, which has shown minor improvement and is only killing penalties at a rate of 66.7%. The Sharks are clearly missing the presence of veteran puck moving defenseman Dan Boyle who is now with the Rangers and the Islanders are missing speedy forward and excellent penalty killer Michael Grabner who is out with injury.

With both teams starting off in excellent fashion, it looks like we are in for a fun game to watch tomorrow night.