With a tremendously tough scheduling coming in their direction, the New York Islanders must make a stand tonight in Chicago against the Blackhawks.
2-4-2 is the record of the now second place New York Islanders during the last eight games.
Yes, that is correct – the second place Islanders.
- New York Islanders (43-24-4), 90 Pts, 2nd In Metropolitan
- Chicago Blackhawks (41-26-6), 88 Pts, 3rd In Central
- United Center, Chicago, Illinois
Worse than 2-4-2 is the line of 0-3 (three straight losses) and 0-4 (four straight losses at home). Sprinkle in the fact that the idle Rangers are now five points up on the Isles with an incredible three games in hand, and we have a situation that is dire.
Okay, so you got me. Of course it’s not dire. This is the National Hockey League – where playoff miracles happen each season and the only critical benchmark is to get into that tourney.
The Islanders have already accomplished that.
Still, considering what a fantastic break through season this has been for John Tavares and the rest of his boys, the end of the regular season can not continue on like this.
New York’s offense has simply been dreadful. They’ve managed to only score three goals during the last three contests.
So the recent news of starting goalie Jaroslav Halak being called “day to day” because of an upper body injury was the exact opposite piece of news needed on Long Island.
At 29, Halak has finally enjoyed that breakout season which has finally see him find his home. He’s put similar stats before, but no NHL team has pointed in his direction and said “you’re my guy.”
Suddenly the acquisition of Michal Neuvirth is more important than any Isles fan would have hoped.
Garth Snow gambled.
For the most part it’s worked out, but on the negative spectrum he seems to be a bit injury prone. This will now be the second time this season he’ll forced to miss action due to being dinged up.
When the offense is going like this, not having your stud goalie is immense. Suddenly the acquisition of Michal Neuvirth is more important than any Isles fan would have hoped.
However, there are two very distinct directions the Isles can travel from here.
One would be the obvious: they continue to sputter over the final 11 games of the season and find themselves matched up with the Penguins in Pittsburgh in Game 1 of the Metropolitan Division semi-finals.
The other would come from the leadership duo of Tavares and Jack Capuano: galvanizing this team – rallying the troops behind negative media clippings and pretending “it’s them against the world.”
Tonight in Chicago could tell us a lot regarding which road they’ll take. Despite their injuries, the Blackhawks remain a nasty (championship) bunch always looking for a game.