Islanders: Previewing the Most Important Road Trip of the Season

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 21: Anders Lee #27 of the New York Islanders celebrates his second period goal against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on January 21, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 21: Anders Lee #27 of the New York Islanders celebrates his second period goal against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on January 21, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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NEW YORK, NEW YORK – JANUARY 21: Anders Lee #27 of the New York Islanders celebrates his second period goal against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on January 21, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – JANUARY 21: Anders Lee #27 of the New York Islanders celebrates his second period goal against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on January 21, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The New York Islanders head to Western Canada and Pittsburgh for a 4 game road trip. They must pick up points to stay in a playoff spot.

The New York Islanders are fighting for a playoff spot and with 15 games remaining every point matters.

The Islanders have definitely not been playing their best hockey as of late. They have dropped their past six games (0-3-3) and on the road they have dropped their last six (0-5-1).

Their last road win came in Washington on February 10th when the Islanders beat the Capitals 5-3.

With all that being said, this is the last time the Islanders are traveling to the west for a road trip and on the way back they face a crucial game in Pittsburgh. They must pick up points in these games to hold on to a playoff spot.

This road trip is only the second time this season the Islanders will be on the road for four straight games.

The only time so far this season the Islanders played 4 straight road games was from February 13-19. All the games were against western conference opponents.

The Islanders visited Nashville, Vegas, Arizona, and Colorado. These games did not go well for the blue and orange. They lost all four games in regulation and were outscored 11-2!

Their only other trip out west was in November. The Islanders played three games against all three California teams, which are now the three worst teams in the Western Conference, and the Islanders did not play their best hockey. The Islanders only picked up 1 out of the possible 6 points and were outscored 9-2.

The Islanders need to bring their A game this road trip. All four teams, as of today, are in playoff position.

There is no reason why the Islanders cannot change their road woes and win at least two or three games on this road trip. They played well Saturday and I believe that game was a good stepping stone for this huge road trip.

The Islanders cannot afford to have another road trip like their last two times out west. If they do, they will be outside of the playoffs looking in.

Lets look at the Islanders opponents for this road trip:

First up, the Vancouver Canucks!

TORONTO, ON – FEBRUARY 29: Loui Eriksson #21 of the Vancouver Canucks skates against the Toronto Maple Leafs during an NHL game at Scotiabank Arena on February 29, 2020 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Maple Leafs defeated the Canucks 4-2. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON – FEBRUARY 29: Loui Eriksson #21 of the Vancouver Canucks skates against the Toronto Maple Leafs during an NHL game at Scotiabank Arena on February 29, 2020 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Maple Leafs defeated the Canucks 4-2. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /

Vancouver Canucks. . 104. . .

The Islanders first game of the road trip will start with the most western team in the NHL, the Vancouver Canucks. This will also be the latest game of the trip with a 10 p.m. puck drop.

As of today, the Canucks are in second place in the western conference wild card standings. They are tied on points with Nashville and Winnipeg, but hold the tiebreaker over them for the wild card spot.

Vancouver is led by forwards J.T. Miller, Ellias Pettersson, Bo Horvart and Tyler Toffoli. The Canucks acquired Toffoli in a big trade to gear up for a post-season push right before the trade deadline.

On the back end, the Canucks are led by rookie sensation Quinn Hughes. Hughes has 52 points in 67 games. He leads the Canucks in assists and powerplay points. He is definitely someone to watch out for if the Canucks get a powerplay.

In net, the Canucks have Jacob Markstrom, Thatcher Demko and Luis Domingue (who was acquired via trade with devils). We will not see Markstrom due to the fact that the Canucks number one net-minder is hurt, but he should be back soon.

The Canucks have not had the best luck injury wise. They are without one of their best forwards, Brock Boeser. Boeser is on the injured reserve and may make his return right before the end of the regular season.

Also, Micheal Ferlund is on the injured reserve and is out for the rest of the season. Josh Leivo is also out for the rest of the regular season, but could make a return in the playoffs.

The Canucks are actually top five in the league in shots faced per game. On average they see 33.1 shots against per game.

The Islanders must play physical against the Canucks top line of Miller, Pettersson, and Toffoli.

If the Islanders want to have success in this game they must get plenty of pucks and people to the net.

CALGARY, AB – MARCH 4: Cameron Talbot #39 and Matthew Tkachuk #19 of the Calgary Flames celebrate after defeating the Columbus Blue Jackets in overtime during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on March 4, 2020 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)
CALGARY, AB – MARCH 4: Cameron Talbot #39 and Matthew Tkachuk #19 of the Calgary Flames celebrate after defeating the Columbus Blue Jackets in overtime during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on March 4, 2020 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images) /

112. . . . Calgary Flames.

On March 12th the Islanders head to Calgary to take on the Flames. Puck drop for this one is scheduled for 9 p.m.

The Flames will be playing the Islanders in the midst of a 5 game home-stand and they will be well-rested for this game. The flames last game before this came at home against Vegas on March 8th.

As of today, the Flames are third place in the Pacific Division. They have 79 points in 70 games. The Flames are behind Pacific Division leader, Vegas Golden Knights, who have 84 points in 70 games.

The Flames are led by leading point scorer and antagonist, Mathew Tkachuk. Tkachuk leads the Flames with 61 points (23 goals and 38 assists). He is definitely one player who absolutely loves getting under opposing player’s skin.

Behind him, Elias Lindholm leads the Flames in goals, with 29 and Johnny Gaudreau leads the team in assists, with 40. Lindholm and Gaudreau play on a line with Sean Monahan and are the Flames top line.

On defense, the Flames are led by their top d-pair of Mark Giordano and T.J. Brodie. Giordano leads the flames in ice time, averaging 23:53 per game. He also has great skating ability and vision.

Between the pipes, Calgary has Cam Talbot and David Rittich. Rittich has been Calgary’s number one this year, playing in 48 games.

Calgary will be without, former Islander, Travis Hamonic. The good news is, he should be returning soon from an upper body injury.

The Flames have a lot of offensive firepower and the Islanders must play a strong defensive game in Calgary.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 23: Connor McDavid #97 of the Edmonton Oilers waits for a faceoff during a 4-2 Oilers win over the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center on February 23, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 23: Connor McDavid #97 of the Edmonton Oilers waits for a faceoff during a 4-2 Oilers win over the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center on February 23, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

. 148. . . . Edmonton Oilers

Imagine having two Hart Memorial Trophy candidates on the same team? Well, the Edmonton Oilers do.

The Islanders travel to Edmonton on Friday, March 13th and puck drop is scheduled for 9 p.m.

The Oilers are led by the top two scorers in the NHL: Leon Drasaitl and Connor McDavid. Drasaitl leads the NHL in points and assists with 67 assists and 110 points. He also has 43 goals to go along with his massive assist numbers.

McDavid falls right behind Drasaitl in all of those categories. McDavid has 33 goals, 63 assists for 96 points.

The Oilers did make a bunch of trades at the deadline when they acquired Tyler Ennis, Andreas Athanasiou and Mike Green.

Unfortunately, Green has been out injured since February 28th, when he sprained his MCL.

Edmonton acquired Green because their biggest weakness is at defense. Compared to other team’s in the NHL, Edmonton does not have a strong defense. Their two best defensemen are Darnell Nurse and Oscar Klefbom.

Behind the defense are goalies Mike Smith and Mikko Koskinen. For the most part, these goalies have split the season.

The Islanders must avoid the penalty box against Edmonton! The Oilers have the best powerplay in the NHL (29.6%). Special teams always makes a difference when playing the Oilers and the Islanders must avoid taking unnecessary penalties.

PITTSBURGH, PA – APRIL 14: Matt Martin #17 of the New York Islanders battles with Jack Johnson #73 of the Pittsburgh Penguins during the first period in Game Three of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at PPG PAINTS Arena on April 14, 2019 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA – APRIL 14: Matt Martin #17 of the New York Islanders battles with Jack Johnson #73 of the Pittsburgh Penguins during the first period in Game Three of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at PPG PAINTS Arena on April 14, 2019 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /

. . . Pittsburgh Penguins. . 92

The Islanders will end their four-game road trip on March 15th against their Metropolitan Division rival, the Pittsburgh Penguins. Puck drop is scheduled for 6 p.m.

Currently, the Penguins sit in third place in the Metropolitan Division with 84 points in 68 games.

Before this game, Pittsburgh will play three straight on the road against Metropolitan Division opponents. This will be the second game of a back-to-back for the Penguins.

The Islanders will see a much different team than the last time they faced Pittsburgh (November 21st). Pittsburgh was extremely active in the trade market.

The Penguins have acquired Jason Zucker, Phil Varone, Riley Barber, Patrick Marleau, Conor Sheary, and Evan Rodrigues.

Jake Guentzel is still out of the lineup after having right shoulder surgery at the end of December.

The Penguins are led by their top line of Zucker, Crosby and Sheary. And right behind them is a star-studded second line of Marleau, Malkin and Rust. Evgeni Malkin leads the Penguins in assists and points with 48 assists and 71 points.

Pittsburgh also has a great top two d-pairs of Dumoulin-Letang and Pettersson-Marino. Letang and Dumoulin lead the Penguins in ice-time and are definitely the Penguins go to defensive pair.

In net, we will either see Tristan Jarry or Matt Murray. Murray has 4 more games played than Jarry and can be seen as Pittsburgh’s number one goalie.

This game will definitely be huge in determining the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference.

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Isles Country: How do you think the Islanders will do on this road trip? Leave your predictions in the comments below!

Next. Islanders: Metropolitan Division Playoff Picture Update

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