New York Islanders: I had a chance to attend the Sunday night game between the Islanders and the Jets, here are five observations from the game.
Without rehashing how the New York Islanders did not add a new high scoring forward in the off-season, the question remains, will the Islanders be able to score enough to win and make the playoffs this season?
(For the record, I believe the Islanders end the season with 99 points, enough for a playoff spot.)
For one night at least, the Islanders outscored the Jets 4-1 and their first goal came from the much-maligned power play.
From where I sat the power play looked slow to develop. However, puck movement seemed to improve, and the result was a nice play from Anthony Beauvillier to Josh Bailey for the first goal of the game. That goal clearly shifted momentum and the Isles looked much better the rest of the game.
2. Anthony Beauvillier
I was really interested in watching Beauvillier in person on Sunday night. I thought he played an excellent 200-foot game and his play away from the puck was outstanding. He was hustling, backchecking and generally looked like a player who needs to meet the expectations placed on him to improve his overall performance from last season.
His backhanded goal at the start of the third period was a thing of beauty and something that the Islanders and its fan base would love to see more of all season. He gets an A in my book for Sunday night’s total performance.
3. Thomas Greiss
Thomas Greiss looked like he was in mid-season form on Sunday night with 35 saves. When he stopped Kyle Connor’s mid-third-period breakaway, his relaxed body language and demeanor was typical Greiss, he just looked comfortable and sharp all game.
With so much attention paid to Lehner leaving and the signing of Semyon Varlamov you have to imagine and expect that Greiss would think, “hey my stats were just as good?” Not only did we not hear a peep from him or any complaining, he went out in game number two of the season and played well.
I still think the Isles goalie corps is outstanding and a strength for this team. How many teams have a 1 and 1A goalie tandem like that?
4. Matthew Barzal
I thought that Matthew Barzal had a strong game when he had the puck, but away from the play and the puck he looked a bit frustrated and seemed to be wandering. I don’t know any other way to put it.
He did seem to have better scoring chances as the game moved on but from my perspective, he didn’t seem as sharp or engaged as we have come to expect. No doubt we should see improved play from Barzal in the near future.
5. Game attendance
However, I think it is important to note that my brother and I both noticed and commended on, how loud and supportive the crowd was considering the size. Let’s hope we see larger crowds and sellouts in the near future.
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Overall, I felt the Islanders needed a win Sunday night. Game twos of a season are not usually “must-win” games, but this felt like a must-win game to me. It is never helpful to start a season with a losing streak and with the question lingering, will your team struggle to score goals. At least for Sunday night, the Isles answered the call.