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Islanders Puck Talk – Weekly Review

Welcome back to Islanders Puck Talk.  Last week was an anomaly due to the poor nature in which the Islanders played in.  The breakdown of each game wasn’t worth it because the Islanders were so embarrassing I had to rant.  While this may not have been the best week, the Islanders find themselves only a point out of a playoff spot with back to back wins over division rival Rangers and Hurricanes.

Thursday, February 15, 2018 – vs New York Rangers

The Islanders started this mini-run with a visit from the New York Rangers.  It was just what the doctor ordered, as the Isles have won 11 of the last 12 against their cross-town rivals.  Josh Bailey was able to get the Islanders on the board with a PP goal early in the first.  Jaroslav Halak was stellar as always, going toe to toe with Henrik Lundqvist again.

Jordan Eberle snuck one past Lundqvist towards the end of the second to double the lead for the Islanders.  Lundqvist was good but he just cannot find a way to beat the Islanders.  For that matter, Jaroslav Halak owns him, going 10-1 in their last 11 games head to head.

Thomas Hickey put the game away in the third with a deflection off multiple Rangers and through the five hole of Lundqvist.  The goal summed up the Rangers season as they’ve had a lot of poor play and bad bounces of late.  It was a fortuitous bounce for the Islanders who don’t seem to get many, but they deserved this one.  The Islanders had great gap control in this game, and while they gave up 50 shots they weren’t ever in any real danger of losing the game.  Of course, it would be ideal not to give up 50 shots every game.  In the meantime, the Islanders became the very last team to record a shutout but they did so at the right time.

Islanders 3, Rangers 0

Friday, February 16, 2018 – @ Carolina Hurricanes

The Islanders continued their winning ways with an even better effort against a strong Carolina Hurricanes team.  While there was no scoring in the first period, Thomas Greiss looked stellar and the defense looked much improved.  The Islanders looked much less jittery in their own zone and seemed to have a calmness about them.

Johnny Boychuk scored the only goal of the second period and boy was it a big one.  The game started to tilt for a little in the Canes’ favor, but Boychuk’s rocket from the point put the Islanders ahead and ensured that this wouldn’t be one of those typical Islander games.

The third period was more of the same as the Islanders were tight in their own zone, pushed the pace of play and made some clutch plays when needed.  Thomas Greiss wound up with 45 saves on the night and I can’t stress enough how many big saves he made in the game.  Anthony Beauvillier wound up on a half breakaway and tucked one home late in the third.  John Tavares later “scored” with a minute left to give him 30 goals for the year.  It wasn’t an actual goal but he was taken down on an empty net breakaway and rewarded a goal for his efforts.  I’ll take it.  It was another great effort and back to back shutouts for the first time in God knows how long.

Islanders 3, Hurricanes 0

Monday, February 19, 2018 – vs Minnesota Wild

The Islanders were finally riding some momentum for the first time in months when the Minnesota Wild came to Brooklyn.  This loss stung because this was one of those “typical” Islander games that drives you crazy.  They play well for most of the game but make a couple of mistakes and don’t capitalize, then wind up losing the game.  Anyway, Joel Eriksson-Ek opened up the scoring in the first.  However, Calder candidate Ross Johnston deflected a Johnny Boychuk shot in for his third goal in ten games.

Let me just say that Ross Johnston is the perfect player for the fourth line.  He scores clutch goals, fights, and knows exactly what his role is.  Anders Lee scored an early second period goal to take the lead.  He joined John Tavares as the second 30 goal scorer on the Islanders this year.  Unfortunately, the Islanders fell back into their old ways by the end of the period, giving up three goals in four minutes to Matt Cullen, Jason Zucker and Tyler Ennis.  Tanner Fritz added a late goal to keep things close, but you just knew the game had already slipped away.

The Islanders were able to make a late push but Jordan Zucker added his second of the night with less than two minutes to go to seal the game.  Devan Dubnyk was stellar in net, making 34 saves and keeping the puck out of his net with many athletic saves in the third.  Thomas Hickey had by far his worst game as an Islander as he gave multiple pucks up in the defensive zone that led to Wild goals.  It was another disappointing loss as the Islanders outplayed their opponents and came out with zero points.

Wild 5, Islanders 3

High Tide

SHUTOUTS!  TWO SHUTOUTS!  What a week for the two goaltenders.  Jaroslav Halak faced 50 shots against the Rangers and Thomas Greiss faced 45 in back to back efforts to gain those two shutouts.  Halak was also better than average against the Wild and deserved a better fate.

The shutout win for Greiss could have been the game to get him going in the right direction.  Unfortunately, Greiss was placed on IR with a lower body injury and Chris Gibson was brought up form Bridgeport to back up Halak.  Regardless of Greiss’ injury the Islanders still have had consistent goalie play of late, at least from Jaro Halak.  Look for this to continue as they hit the home stretch.

Low Tide

The rumors of John Tavares’ departure are about to heat up once again.  The Islanders take a trip to Toronto tomorrow to play the Maple Leafs, and rest assured that 90% of the questions are going to in some way, shape or form ask Tavares about his upcoming decision on free agency.  It’s been a pipe dream for years that Toronto’s son will come back home to lead them to their first Stanley Cup in 50+ years.

Tavares is going to say all the right things and it will be a non-issue, it’s just annoying when all of these rumors get picked up by Canadian websites and newspapers.  John Tavares is not going to the Leafs no matter what they say, but even if he denies it all day long he’s still going to be asked that question all day.  When he re-signs with the Islanders he’ll no longer be asked that question, but for now I guess we just need to take it all in stride.

Make sure to follow all Islanders and hockey coverage @SupRos22.  Also make sure to get all your sports coverage @DoubleGSports.

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