It took two+ periods for something to happen. Honestly, this was a very boring game to watch for 40 minutes. The way I characterized it to my wife as I yawned like a banshee was: “the good team (the New York Islanders) is playing bad and the bad team is playing as expected. It’s two teams playing badly and doing nothing.”
The shots may have been 20-13 for the Devils through those first two frames, but it honestly felt a lot worse. Of those 20 shots, the Devils had exactly zero high-danger chances while the Islanders put up four (two in each period).
Leave it to Oliver Wahlstrom, who’s as hot as can be right now, to get the Islanders into the game.
New York Islanders Oliver Goal-strom
The other day we say how lethal Oliver Wahlstrom’s release could be on the power play. Give him time and space to rip the puck and it’s going in. But we haven’t seen him use that ‘lethal’ shot at 5on5 just yet.
Sure he’s getting the puck to the net, but neither of his two 5on5 goals this year were scored with that shot. One bounced off a defender and luckily found twine and the other was Wahlstrom pouncing on a loose puck in close.
But 1:10 into the third, Wahlstrom rips this wrister on the rush through Dmitry Kulikov and beats Dell high blocker side.
That’s four goals on the season now and a five-game point streak for the eleventh overall pick from 2018. Calls for the Calder are still way too premature, but the way this is going you’d have to think he might factor in the race for the top rookie.
Lack of Discipline / Strong Varly
The Islanders had no jump to their game and were constantly taking penalties because of it. Four different players went to the box for ill-disciplined calls that could have been avoided.
Thankfully, the New Jersey Devils power play is the worst in the NHL with a 16% efficiency. They’d manage to get six shots on net but Semyon Varlamov stopped them all.
The one ray of sunshine (outside of Wahlstrom scoring) was Semyon Varlamov. The veteran goalie stopped 28 of 29 shots for a 0.966SV%.
To be fair, Varly wasn’t tested much. Through 60 minutes and across all situations, Varlamov was faced with a single high-danger chance (he stopped it). The only puck that beat him was thanks to a lucky missed call on Miles Woods tripping Andy Greene upfront.
With the second goal for the Islanders in the game, Anders Lee is now the first player to hit double-digit goals on the season. This goal from in close was his tenth of the year.
With ten goals in 22 games, the Islanders captain is now on pace for 37 goals on a full 82 game season. For those who may have been worried about Lee’s $7 million cap hit and the 20 goals, he scored last year will be able to rest easy.
The win now puts the Isles in second with 28 points in 22 games. The Capitals sit above them with 28 points from 21 games.
Oliver Wahlstrom (1G): What a run he’s been on. Five game point streak with six points over those five games.
Semyon Varlamov (28 saves, 0.966SV%): Again, he deserved the shutout.
Anders Lee: (1G [GWG]): It may not have been the prettiest goal, but it counts all the same.
The Islanders effort: Semyon Varlamov and Oliver Wahlstrom aside, the team just didn’t play well today.
Aaron Dell (18 saves, 0.900SV%): He wasn’t tested much but when he was he didn’t stand tall.
Josh Bailey (3GVA): I don’t think I heard his name in the MSG broadcast. That’s not a good thing.