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Islanders Puck Talk – Weekly Review

The Islanders have been limping to the finish line of a disappointing 2018 campaign.  They’re in the midst of another losing streak and with only three games left in the season, the only hope is that they lose the next three games and gain better odds at a top lottery pick.  There is so much uncertainty regarding the future of the franchise, whether it be John Tavares’ plans in UFA or whether or not Garth Snow and the coaching staff stay after the season.  It’s a great time to be an Islanders fan.

Monday, March 26th 2018 – vs Florida Panthers

There’s no need to give a full recap of the game because the Islanders didn’t even care to show up for it.  Keith Yandle scored in the first to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead and that could have been enough as the Isles slogged through the rest of the game.

Nick Bjugstad and Evgenii Dadonov scored in the third to stretch the lead to three.  The Islanders were listless and gave up 40+ shots for what feels like the 60th time this season.  Christopher Gibson was good but it doesn’t matter at this point.  Oh and the Islanders were officially eliminated from the playoffs by Panthers’ associate head coach Jack Capuano.  It was a good start to the week.

Panthers 3, Islanders 0

Tuesday, March 27th 2018 – @ Ottawa Senators

The Islanders put the tank on hold for just a moment, blowing leads all game yet somehow coming through in the clutch to win a meaningless game against a Senators team that is also going nowhere.  Anders Lee continued his torrid scoring pace by notching his 39th on the PP.  Matt Duchene and Erik Karlsson made quick work of the Islanders’ lead, putting the Sens up 2-1 by the end of the first period.

Anthony Beauvillier scored his 17th of the season and Brock Nelson his 18th to put the Islanders up 3-2.  It’s a good sign that there are some games that the Isles care, but the effort is too inconsistent from period to period and it seems like every game they take a lead they immediately give it back.  Every game is a shootout.

Bobby Ryan tied it late for the Senators but Andrew Ladd scored his second goal in almost 40 games to put the Islanders up 4-3 and scrape out a win.  It’s a meaningless win but there is still plenty of fire on this team.  Hopefully if the defense can be shored up (we’ll discuss this later) and John Tavares stays, the Islanders will use this season as motivation.

Islanders 4, Senators 3

Friday, March 30th 2018 – vs Toronto Maple Leafs

This game was definitely a sprint to the finish.  There was zero defense involved, a lot of bad bounces, and a favorable result for the Islanders.  They don’t WANT to lose but the more they win the slimmer their chances are to get Rasmus Dahlen.  Anthony Beauvillier scored his second goal in two games to start the scoring off.  Nazem Kadri tied it and Johnny Boychuk gave the Isles a 2-1 lead on an absolute howitzer.

Nikita Zaitsev tied the game up again but perennial 20 goal scorer Brock Nelson put the Islanders back on top.  Isles killer Mitch Marner tied it up once again to end the second period.

The third period looked similar to most of the season.  James Van Riemsdyk gave the Leafs a lead, Tavares answered back with a goal of his own to tie it up, and then a bad bounce by human turnover machine Adam Pelech led to an Auston Mathews clincher.  It’s one of the worst losses of the season but at this point in the season it’s better that they lost this game.

Maple Leafs 5, Islanders 4

Saturday, March 31st 2018 – @ New Jersey Devils

The Islanders played the rival New Jersey Devils for the final time.  Tanner Fritz started off the scoring early in the first, but that lead was for naught as Stefan Noesen tied it up at one.

Taylor Hall took over the game in the second, like he has in the past two months.   Hall scored back to back goals to give the Devils a 3-1 lead.  Anthony Beavillier knotted his 19th goal on the PP, but the Islanders’ PP wasn’t all that great as they gave up a shorthanded goal to Blake Coleman.

The game was well out of hand with a two goal deficit when Chris Wagner scored to make it a one goal game.  The Devils have been on a run as of late and are now one win away from clinching a playoff spot.  Thomas Greiss was awful as per usual, but he’s had a very weird season.  According to Arthur Staple of The Athletic, Saturday’s game was the first time Greiss lost giving up 4 goals.  He’s given up a five spot or more in most of his losses, and he needs to be cut after the season.

Devils 4, Islanders 3

High Tide

Tanner Fritz got his first crack at first line minutes after Josh Bailey was a late scratch the past few games.  Fritz played well with Anders Lee and John Tavares, scoring a goal against the Devils and playing with poise.  He’s a young kid with some potential to be a middle-six forward.  If you were to say that Fritz would be on the top line of the Islanders it would have been a pipe dream at the beginning of the season.  Fritz was a mediocre AHL-level player when the year started but has slowly worked his way up to more time and responsibility as the season has waned on.  Look for him to have another big season next year.

Low Tide

Nick Leddy has 42 points this season, but he has been by far the worst defeseman on the team, at least statistically.  He is a -43 right now and has looked out of position almost all season.  Plus minus doesn’t mean all that much considering he is playing against most teams’ top lines, but the fact that Leddy is that poor considering he has PP time and plays with the first line is alarming.  He’s had to deal with a revolving door of D-men on his other side, but regardless of who he’s playing with he needs to learn to be stronger of the puck and be in the right spot at all times.  He seems to rely on his speed a bit too much, but he’s still young and will have plenty of years to correct that.

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