Hockey fans, let’s hear it for your first place New York Islanders.
With a second consecutive victory over the Ottawa Senators, this time in Ottawa on Daniel Alfredsson‘s homecoming night, the Isles have propelled themselves into sole possession of first place in the Metropolitan division. They have not held that distinction since October, and I can not remember the last time the Isles held first place in December, and I don’t feel like doing that kind of research. This is how I saw the Isles 2-1 win:
- This was another sloppy one against the Sens. Neither team was crisp, which was the case when the two teams faced off on Long Island.
- This was also another boring game. Very few shots, even fewer scoring chances. There were a few quality chances on either end, though, which leads me to my next point…
- Garth Snow; Thank you for Jaroslav Halak. Jaro put up another stellar performance tonight and was the Isles best player in my opinion. This win was his eleventh straight victory, a franchise record, surpassing Billy Smith. For those of you who are new to the team, Smith’s number hangs in the rafters.
- Brock Nelson continues to remind me of Matt Moulson, scoring another Moulson-esque goal tonight. When a fortunate bounce comes Brock’s way, he never misses. It’s incredible to watch.
- Good to see the fourth line get rewarded for their hard work. A beautiful feed from Thomas Hickey lead to Casey Cizikas‘ game winner.
- The Isles D did a fantastic job tonight holding the Senators to only 21 shots on goal despite the fact that three regulars were out, including Johnny Boychuk, the team’s best defenseman. Griffin Reinhart played adequately in his return to the NHL.
- The Senators welcomed back Bobby Ryan, a player with goal scoring pedigree, but the Isles managed to keep him bottled up.
- The Isles welcomed back Michael Grabner, who showed some signs of rust, including a near breakaway in which he failed to maintain the puck and taking a interference penalty.
- For all of you who gripe about Josh Bailey, I present to you Cory Conacher. Just. Stop. This is a better team with Bailey in the lineup than it is without.
- I thought Mikhail Grabovski was due to break out of his slump tonight. Not so much. I’m officially worried about his play.
- Same goes for you Kyle Okposo. KO missed a few great chances tonight.
I know there was a lot of negativity in there on a day where Islanders Nation should be rejoicing, but that’s what comes from raised expectations. Wins are wins, I don’t dismiss any victories, but this team now has a level of play they are expected to reach game in and game out, and they haven’t been at that level this week.
That being said; FIRST PLACE. Savor it. Right now, that is what matters most, not my nit-picking.