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Fish Sticks; The Islanders are starting to become the Islanders again

The New York Islanders have sneakily won four of their past five games, despite the fact that the sky was falling on their Cinderella season.  The last two, both home against the Columbus Blue Jackets and Montreal Canadiens, were essentially playoff games due to the tight nature of the game and intense atmosphere inside the Coli.

The Islanders had a bit of a slide, starting with the Western Canada road trip up until their two wins against the Ottawa Senators.  They got blown out by the Philadelphia Flyers twice but even when they were winning they didn’t look like themselves.

After these past two games, it’s safe to say that the Islanders are on the right trajectory.  In the Columbus game they played an extremely tight game where a couple of posts and the fabulous goaltending of Thomas Greiss carried them.  In the Montreal game, it was probably the most entertaining 2-1 game we’ve seen in a while, and being there the Coliseum was electric.  The clutch, crisp passing of Mathew Barzal was in full force on Thursday night, putting the puck on a string and then throwing one through Jeff Petry’s legs for Anders Lee, who was rushing on a 2-on-1 and made no mistake to win the game with under three minutes to go.

The biggest reason for optimism going forward is the lack of secondary opportunities and the clamping down in their defensive zone.  In the previous two weeks, the Islanders looked lackadaisical at times in their own zone and were constantly letting men beat them in the slot for rebounds.  They were softer than they were the middle of the season and although the goaltending dropped a little bit, it was partially due to them being put in compromised positions.

These past two games they’ve been back to the Islander brand of hockey;  A grinding, win at any cost style which usually compasses great defense, great goaltending, and timely goals.  They did that against Montreal and Columbus.  They need to continue that going forward to win the division.  Can they keep this up?

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