Islanders 4 Games out West is a Make or Break Road Trip

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 10: Anthony Beauvillier #18 of the New York Islanders celebrates his first goal during the first period against the Washington Capitals at Capital One Arena on February 10, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 10: Anthony Beauvillier #18 of the New York Islanders celebrates his first goal during the first period against the Washington Capitals at Capital One Arena on February 10, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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WASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 10: Anthony Beauvillier #18 of the New York Islanders celebrates his first goal during the first period against the Washington Capitals at Capital One Arena on February 10, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 10: Anthony Beauvillier #18 of the New York Islanders celebrates his first goal during the first period against the Washington Capitals at Capital One Arena on February 10, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

The New York Islanders hit the road for four games out West from Thursday to next Wednesday. This road trip can make or break the Islanders season.

The New York Islanders are in an extremely tight playoff race. As of today, only seven points separate the second-placed team in the Metro Division to the third-place wild card team.

Last night the Islanders hung on to beat the Flyers 5-3.

Islanders vs. Flyers: Big win in four-point game over Metro rivals. Related Story

Currently, the Islanders sit in third place in the Metro division with 55 games played and the schedule does not get any easier. There next four games span over a week and are all on the road against Western Conference opponents.

Going out west is never easy, the style of play mixed with the changes in altitude can be tough for road teams to adapt. Then you mix in the fact that all four opponents are in a playoff race (Arizona, Colorado, Vegas are in playoff spots, meanwhile Nashville is five points from the wildcard spot) This road trip just got a whole lot tougher.

The Islanders control their own destiny: they keep winning and a playoff spot is all theirs, but if they start dropping games they can wish their playoff hopes goodbye.

This road trip will set the tone for the rest of the season. So let’s look the road trip ahead of us:

NEWARK, NEW JERSEY – JANUARY 30: Roman Josi #59 of the Nashville Predators skates against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on January 30, 2020 in Newark, New Jersey. The Predators defeated the Devils 6-5 in the shoot-out. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
NEWARK, NEW JERSEY – JANUARY 30: Roman Josi #59 of the Nashville Predators skates against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on January 30, 2020 in Newark, New Jersey. The Predators defeated the Devils 6-5 in the shoot-out. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

Nashville Predators

Tomorrow (2/13) the Islanders will start their road trip in the music city against the Nashville Predators. Puck drop is scheduled for 8 p.m. and the game can be seen on MSG+2.

The Preds have had their share of ups and downs this year:

On January 6th, the 19-15-7, Predators fired head coach Peter Laviolette. The next day, they hired John Hynes as their head coach.

Since the hiring of Hynes, the Predators have gone an even 7-7-0. Which is to say that they haven’t improved much under their new head coach, but they are in a tight playoff race.

Currently, the Preds are five points from a wild card spot. They sit on 59 points which is good enough for 5th place in the wild card race.

The Predators are led by captain Roman Josi who has 14 goals and 41 assists. Josi is the player to watch for the Preds. The most amazing stat he has is his +21 plus/minus.

Besides Josi, we should keep an eye on Filip Forsberg, Matt Duchene, Nick Bonnino and Ryan Johansen. Each of these forwards has amassed over 30 points this season. Each one is equally dangerous and can light the lamp at any time.

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – JANUARY 21: Paul Stastny #26 of the Vegas Golden Knights looks on, with stitches on his mouth, during the third period at TD Garden on January 21, 2020 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Bruins defeat the Knights 3-2. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – JANUARY 21: Paul Stastny #26 of the Vegas Golden Knights looks on, with stitches on his mouth, during the third period at TD Garden on January 21, 2020 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Bruins defeat the Knights 3-2. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

Vegas Golden Knights

It feels like just yesterday the Golden Knights were the Cinderella story of the NHL, playing in the Stanley Cup Finals in their first season as a franchise. But a lot has changed since then.

The Golden Knights are currently hold the first wild card spot in the Western Conference with 64 points in 58 games played.

Back on January 15th the Golden Knights made their first coaching change by firing head coach Gerard Gallant and naming Peter DeBoer as their new head coach. This coaching change came as a surprise for some and the firing of Gallant is a whole other debate.

Last night they lost to the Minnesota Wild 4-0.  Who are now only four points back of the Knights with two games in hand. The pressure is on for DeBoer. The Golden Knights host the Islanders in what is game two of a five-game homestand for the Knights.

Vegas is led by forwards Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty. Stone leads the Golden Knights in points with 53, so far he has 20 goals and 33 assists. Pacioretty is not far behind him with 24 goals and 28 assists, which is good for 52 points.

For the Islanders to have success against the Golden Knights they have to find a way to silence the Vegas home crowd early and keep Stone and Pacioretty off the board.

UNIONDALE, NEW YORK – MARCH 24: Lawson Crouse #67 of the Arizona Coyotes battles with Scott Mayfield #24 of the New York Islanders during the first period at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum on March 24, 2019 in Uniondale, New York. The Islanders shut-out the Coyotes 2-0. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
UNIONDALE, NEW YORK – MARCH 24: Lawson Crouse #67 of the Arizona Coyotes battles with Scott Mayfield #24 of the New York Islanders during the first period at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum on March 24, 2019 in Uniondale, New York. The Islanders shut-out the Coyotes 2-0. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

Arizona Coyotes

On President’s day, the Islanders travel to the Gila River Arena to take on the Arizona Coyotes in a matinee matchup. Puck drop is scheduled for 4 p.m. eastern.

The Arizona Coyotes are currently 2nd place in the wild card spot with 64 points in 59 games. They are tied with Vegas on points, but Vegas holds the tiebreaker.

The Coyotes have been in the news for a whole different reason than what’s happening on the ice. The Coyotes are under investigation for allegedly fitness testing NHL draft-eligible players.

Enough of that, let’s go back to the Ice:

So far in February, the Coyotes have posted a 2-2-2 record. Last night they lost to Toronto 3-2 in overtime and complete their four-game Atlantic division road trip against the Senators tomorrow night.

The Yotes’ have some offensive firepower that includes leading point scorer Nick Schmaltz, Christian Dvorak, Clayton Keller, Taylor Hall, Phil Kessel, Derek Stepan and leading goal scorer Conor Garland.

Yes, you read that right! Garland who played 21 games for the Tucson Roadrunners (AHL) last year is the Coyotes leading goal scorer this year, with 19 goals in 58 games

Mix that offense with a solid defense that includes Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Jakob Chychrun and Alex Goligoski, you have a solid team.

Goaltender Darcy Kuemper should be healthy and back in the lineup when the Islanders are in Arizona, making the Coyotes even more dangerous.

UNIONDALE, NEW YORK – JANUARY 06: Matt Martin #17 of the New York Islanders checks Matt Calvert #11 of the Colorado Avalanche during the second period at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum on January 06, 2020 in Uniondale, New York. The Islanders shut-out to Avalanche 1-0. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
UNIONDALE, NEW YORK – JANUARY 06: Matt Martin #17 of the New York Islanders checks Matt Calvert #11 of the Colorado Avalanche during the second period at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum on January 06, 2020 in Uniondale, New York. The Islanders shut-out to Avalanche 1-0. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

Colorado Avalanche

The Islanders save the best for last on this road trip!

In what may be the toughest matchup of this road trip, the Islanders finish up on February 19th, at 10 p.m. eastern, in the high altitude against the Colorado Avalanche.

The Islanders and Avalanche are very similar. In fact, as of today, they both have the same record of 33-16-6. The only difference is Colorado’s record has them in second place in the Central Division and one point behind the Blues.

The last time these teams met was on January 6th, in an extremely tight game. The only goal was scored 6:34 seconds into the third period by Anders Lee. Semyon Varlamov got the shutout in the Islanders 1-0 win.

The Avalanche are led by one of the top first lines in hockey featuring Andre Burakovsky, Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen. These three players account for three of the top four point scorers on the Avalanche.

The other thing the Islanders have to be wary of is the Avalanche’s top defensive pair, which some may say is the best in hockey. This d-pair consists of rookie sensation Cale Makar and Ryan Graves. Makar has 12 goals and 32 assists and a +10 plus/minus, while Graves has eight goals and 15 assists and a +41 plus/minus. Yes, Graves has a +41 plus/minus!

Next. Top 5 Isles goals from the last decade

If the Islanders want to have success in this game, they must shut down Colorado’s top line and d-pair and keep them off the board.

Isles Country: How do you think the Islanders will finish this road trip? Leave Your Comments Below!

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