Islanders: Top Individual Performances of the 2019-20 Season
By Johnny Berman
The New York Islanders are awaiting word on the status of their 2019-20 season. While we all wait, it seems like a good time to look back on some of the top individual Islander performances of the season. Here is the top performance from an Islander goalie, defenseman and forward this season.
Semyon Varlamov: January 6 vs. Colorado (1-0 W)
Semyon Varlamov recorded 32 saves in this game to earn his second shutout of the season. The Islanders needed all 32 of his saves, as they scored just one goal of their own in their 1-0 win.
This was an impressive performance from Varlamov for several reasons. For starters, it was his first time facing Colorado after playing the last eight seasons for them. Varlamov was able to keep his emotions in check and put up a dominant performance.
Secondly, at the time, Colorado was the highest-scoring team in the NHL. They still have the most goals for in the Western Conference. Nonetheless, Varlamov was able to hold them scoreless, something that only one other goalie has done this season.
Finally, Colorado was playing with their core four players: Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, Mikko Rantanen, and Cale Makar. It has been somewhat of a rarity this season for the Avalanche to have all four players in their lineup, as Rantanen has missed 28 games, Landeskog has missed 16 and Makar has missed 13.
Early on, it appeared Varlamov would lose his shutout, as he was beaten by Nikita Zadorov roughly 14 minutes into the second period. Nonetheless, the Islanders successfully challenged the play for offside and were able to keep the Avalanche off the board.
Unfortunately, Varlamov would struggle mightily after this game. He would give up a combined 17 goals in his next four games, all of which were losses.
Nick Leddy: November 19 vs. Pittsburgh (5-4 W OT)
This was one of the most exciting Islander games of the year. The Isles scored two goals in the final four and a half minutes to force overtime, where they eventually won the game. This was the Isles’ first victory over the Penguins since sweeping them in the first round of the playoffs last season. This win extended the Islanders’ point streak to 15 games.
Nick Leddy played a huge part in the victory, as he picked up three assists, including one on the game-tying goal. Leddy finished the game with a +5, becoming the only Islander to do so this season. Leddy was also strong on defense and tied his season-high with three hits in the game. He was also credited with a blocked shot.
Leddy sure needed a strong offensive performance, as he had recorded just one point in his previous five games. More importantly, after a down offensive season in 2018-19, Leddy showed in this game that he can still help produce goals.
Nonetheless, as someone who has come up in trade talks before, Leddy may have needed a few more performances like this to cement his future with the Isles.
Jordan Eberle: February 21 vs. Detroit (4-1 W)
Though this was the least impressive of the three victories, it was also the most timely. With their win over Detroit, Eberle and the Islanders snapped their four-game losing streak and held onto their fading playoff hopes for a bit longer.
Eberle was the difference in this game, as he recorded his third-career hat trick and his first with the Islanders.
Eberle scored the first two goals of the game to give the Isles a 2-0 lead. After the Red Wings cut their deficit to one in the final minutes of the game, Eberle effectively iced the game just two minutes later with his third goal.
One factor Eberle had in his favor was his time on ice (TOI). Eberle was on the ice for 20:35, well above his season average of 17:49 and his career average of 17:44. Eberle had the third-highest TOI among all Islander skaters, behind only Ryan Pulock and Mat Barzal. With his extended TOI, Eberle wreaked havoc on Red Wing goalie Jonathan Bernier with five shots on goal.
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This was one of only two multi-goal games for Eberle this season. Interestingly enough, the other came against these same Red Wings back in December. The result of that game? Also, a 4-1 Islander victory.