New York Islanders Early Season Struggles Continue
By Billy Lewis
After a great preseason, the New York Islanders have stumbled out of the gates. They sit at an underwhelming 2-3-1 after the first six games.
Heading into the season there was excitement surrounding the New York Islanders. They acquired Jordan Eberle during the offseason and youngsters Joshua Ho-Sang, Mathew Barzal, and Ryan Pulock all made the team out of camp.
Doug Weight said that he would play the youngsters over the veterans. He also had the caveat that they had to outplay the veterans. Ho-Sang was surprisingly scratched in the season opener and Pulock has yet to play. Not to mention Anthony Beauvillier has been a healthy scratch the last two games.
The glaring issue early on has been the powerplay. They’ll enter Thursday’s tilt against the New York Rangers sitting 0-20 on the powerplay. They are one of two teams without a powerplay goal, the other being the Anaheim Ducks (Ducks also sit at 2-3-1).
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The Islanders last four games have been decided by two goals or less so even a mediocre powerplay unit could have helped them win a couple more games. Instead, the powerplay unit actually hurt the Islanders against the Los Angeles Kings Sunday night.
The Kings scored a shorthanded goal to extend their lead to 3-1. That shorthanded goal ended up being the game-winner as the Isles lost 3-2.
Turning it Around
The Isles are coming back from a West Coast trip in which they went 1-2-0. They’ll play the Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Thursday before hosting the Sharks and Arizona Coyotes. The Sharks were the only team the Islanders beat on their West Coast trip and the Rangers and Coyotes sit at the bottom of the Eastern and Western Conferences respectively.
Now the Islanders need to start clicking. Though it’s too early to panic, the Isles need to go at least 2-1-0 in the next three games. Islander fans have seen the season get away from them far too early in the past.
Pulock receiving practice reps with the first powerplay unit would lead you to believe he will play tomorrow. Islander fans will most excited to see Pulock in the lineup and one has to hope he helps the power play. One thing for certain is he can’t make it worse.
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Thursday night will be the first taste of the Islanders-Rangers rivalry in 2017. With both teams struggling early on, the Isles hope this will propel them going forward.