With only nine games remaining in the 2014-15 NHL season, the John Tavares and the New York Islanders need to find that playoff gear now.
It has been quiet within New York Islanders nation this past week.
The team has only played two games in ten days which was much-needed after the rigorous February schedule. The team should be well rested and two of their top players Nick Leddy and Jaroslav Halak returned Saturday against the Devils in the 3-0 shutout win.
The Islanders need to now look at this up coming challenge. They are heading into a four-game home stand and the teams that are coming out of the visitors dressing room are going to be in playoff mode. It is look in the mirror time for the Isles and the boys should be ready to answer the bell. Every point is crucial as the team is battling to secure home-ice advantage for the Playoffs.
This season is no fluke, the Islanders do not have to prove that they are legitimate contenders. They need to find that consistency in their game that we have seen this season in abundant stretches. The games are becoming tighter and the team cannot sit back and wait for the play to happen. They have been aggressive all season and will have to grab hold of that intensity that they have tucked away the past few weeks.
The Islanders kick off the home stand with the return of Thomas Vanek and the Minnesota Wild. The Wild are currently sitting comfortable in a wild card position. The Wild’s season turned around in January when they acquired Goalie Devan Dubynk from Arizona. They have been 23-6-2 since Dubynk’s arrival. Thomas Vanek has found his game and is on an eight-game point streak (six goals, four assists). I am pretty positive the Islander fans will relay their feelings of his last seasons blow off when not signing with the team.
Defending Stanley Cup Champions the Los Angeles Kings who are fighting for their playoff life will be at the Nassau Coliseum Thursday. The Islanders close out the weekend with a home and home against the Anaheim Ducks and Detroit Redwings. Those much-needed points on the table will not come easy.
It is not make it or break it time, but it is time to get hot. The Islanders need to string some wins together and keep the Penguins and Capitals off their backs. The Penguins are two points back and have a game in hand. The Capitals are four points back and share the 73 games played as the Isles.
Coach Jack Capuano will not refrain from mixing things up if the team comes out flat. The pressure is on and it is coming at a perfect time. The Islanders need to ready themselves for the playoff atmosphere, it has arrived.