New York Islanders Need To Build Off Win Heading Into Break

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 01: Anders Lee
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 01: Anders Lee /

The New York Islanders snapped their five-game losing streak in a Sunday matinee in Brooklyn.  The Isles 5-4 win over the New Jersey Devils was their last game before their “bye week” begins. The Islanders need to keep this mojo alive until they return to action next Saturday.

The New York Islanders had to be feeling pretty darn good after their win Sunday against the New Jersey Devils. Considering how they climbed out of the deep hole they dug themselves into, killed a very questionable penalty called in overtime, and finally saw signs of life out of Brock Nelson with his game-winning shootout goal, all-in-all, today was a good day.

The good times will not continue to roll for the New York Islanders unless they can improve on the shoddy play they’ve exhibited over the last few weeks. From virtually top to bottom, this Islanders roster has been in the deepest of ruts. Make no mistake about it. Without significant improvement, this team will not reach the playoffs this year.

The New York Islanders need to make the most out of their next six days. Hopefully, Doug Weight will have them back in for their morning skates well before the Isles match-up next Saturday with the Rangers. If the Islanders want to build any momentum off of their hard-fought win over the Devils on Sunday, they’ll need all the ice time they can get.

Thumbs Up

There were lots of positives to take away from the New York Islanders win over New Jersey on Sunday. Let’s run down a few of the good things the Islanders did Sunday that they should try to build upon.

Sebastian Aho played very well with Nick Leddy in the first defensive pairing. Depending on the severity of Johnny Boychuk‘s injury and his time frame for coming back (especially if he’s going to miss a significant amount of time), this is the top pairing I’d like to see during his absence.

The Islanders ferocity was turned up a notch today. Anders Lee was not taking any baloney from the Devils and he wasn’t afraid to let any offenders know that. That’s the type of fiery play the New York Islanders need on a nightly basis in order to re-acquire their form from earlier in the season.

The pass that Mathew Barzal found Anthony Beauvillier with for Beau’s goal in the second period sure was nifty! These childhood friends appear to have a special chemistry between them. This is an area I’d like to see Doug Weight explore a bit further.  If I were him, I’d stick these two together more often and see what develops.

And finally, despite being down by two goals, somewhat late in the final period, the Islanders never quit.  They worked their butts off, tied the game, and were able to kill that phantom penalty called on John Tavares midway through the overtime period to move on to the shootout.

Thumbs Down

If the New York Islanders want to keep this momentum going, they’ll need to forget about a couple of their missteps from Sunday’s win over the Devils.

The Islanders sloppy play to end the second period and begin the third almost cost them the game. A Devils goal with just minutes remaining in the second, followed by two more quick goals to start the third is evidence of the Isles taking shifts off. They can’t afford to nearly give away games due to mental miscues. Improvement in this area is imperative.

Although Brock Nelson scored the game-winner in the shootout, his play up until that point was nothing to write home about. There was one sequence that specifically stands out in my mind that sums up this entire season for Brock Nelson. After Nelson was delivered a bone-crushing cross-check by Taylor Hall in the third period, he almost seemed to shy away from a confrontation with Hall.

This signifies to me that Brock Nelson has lost nearly all confidence in his play. If Brock Nelson wants to stay at the NHL level, he must get his competitive fire back.

Next: Isles Must Find Positives In Slump

The New York Islanders need a few days off, no doubt. But once they return from their sunny Caribbean getaways or New England bed & breakfasts, it’s time to get back to work. The Islanders have a ton of talent on this roster, even with all of the injuries. If they can simply win a few games and maybe pull off a trade, the Islanders can turn things around and make the most of the opportunity being presented to them; a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.