NY Islanders face major test against NHL's best in rough stretch of games

 Oct 20, 2022; Elmont, New York, USA; New Jersey Devils left wing Ondrej Palat (18) takes a shot on
Oct 20, 2022; Elmont, New York, USA; New Jersey Devils left wing Ondrej Palat (18) takes a shot on / Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
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The New York Islanders squandered an opportunity to bank points against teams behind them in the schedule in recent days. The team did not only lose three of four but did it against teams behind them in the standings and in some cases, reeling and desperate for a win. The Philadelphia Flyers ended a 10-game winless streak against the Isles in a 3-1 win, then the Nashville Predators, who always beat the Isles, defeated them at UBS Arena 4-1. After a 3-0 win over the Chicago Blackhawks, the Isles couldn't make it two in a row against a St. Louis Blues team that had lost their previous four games and, like Chicago and Nashville before them, had played the prior night.

Islanders face major test against NHL's best in rough stretch of games

After a 2-4-0 start, the Isles responded with consecutive wins against the Rangers, Hurricanes, and Avalanche. They might need to play even better against their upcoming opponents: the New Jersey Devils, Carolina Hurricanes, and Boston Bruins.

New Jersey Devils

The Devils have a 21-4-1 record and 43 points - tied with Boston for the most in the NHL. New Jersey is one of only six teams in NHL history to win 21 of their first 26 games, and the team hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down. They’ll enter Friday night’s game with an 18-1-1 record over their last 20 games. Last year, they had 27 wins all season! When NJ dominated the Isles in a 4-1 on Oct 15, it was chalked up to a bad night for the home team, but the Devils took off, having lost only twice in regulation since

Oct 20, 2022; Elmont, New York, USA; New Jersey Devils left wing Jesper Bratt (63) passes the puck
Oct 20, 2022; Elmont, New York, USA; New Jersey Devils left wing Jesper Bratt (63) passes the puck / Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Carolina Hurricanes

Last season’s Metropolitan Division champions have been surging as of late, having picked up points in nine of their last 10 games (4-1-5) to jump into second place behind the Devils, a position the Isles held until their recent dip. Sebastian Aho and Andrei Svechnikov have been good, as expected, but the team’s leading scorer is 23-year-old Martin Necas (12G, 16A).

Oct 28, 2022; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA;  Carolina Hurricanes right wing Andrei Svechnikov (37)
Oct 28, 2022; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Hurricanes right wing Andrei Svechnikov (37) / James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

This was unexpected. A season ago, Necas recorded a career-low 0.51 points per game in posting 14 goals and 40 points in 78 regular-season games. He signed a two-year bridge contract for a total of $6M, but his promising potential has taken shape, and that makes Carolina as dangerous an offensive team as ever.

Boston Bruins

The Devils may have the most points in the league, but the Bruins have the league’s top winning % with a record of 21-3-1. On Tuesday, their NHL record home winning streak to start a season was snapped at 14 games against former coach Bruce Cassidy and the Vegas Golden Knights in a 4-3 SO loss. They had no issue getting back on track, blanking the Colorado Avalanche 4-0 on the road on Wednesday night.

Mar 26, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins defenseman Hampus Lindholm (27) looks to
Mar 26, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins defenseman Hampus Lindholm (27) looks to / Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

David Pastrnak has been his usual phenomenal self, scoring 17 goals and 18 assists in 24 games this season. Meanwhile, Linus Ullmarkhas been lights out in net, holding a 14-1-0 record with a 1.93 GAA, and is among the Vezina favorites.

The team’s upcoming schedule is daunting. Can they surprise us and respond to the challenge and adversity of the moment they did back in November? Possibly. But they won't be able to overcome their slow starts and will need to get stellar goaltending to have a chance. Otherwise, their in danger of slipping further down the standings and undoing a lot of their good play over the last two months.

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