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Islanders Puck Talk – Weekly Review

It’s been a roller-coaster ride for the New York Islanders and their fans in the past week.  There has been some poor play on the ice, a huge victory at home to end the week, and an announcement that the ESD will come to a decision on the Belmont RFP on Wednesday morning at 11 AM.
Let’s talk about the games before we dive into the Belmont proposal.

Wednesday, December 13th 2017 – vs Dallas Stars

The week did not start well for the Islanders, as they played the Dallas Stars on the second end of a back-to-back.  Unfortunately, the Islanders looked very sluggish almost the entire game and never got things going against a ferocious Dallas fore-check.  Tyler Pitlick started the scoring for the Islanders midway through the first period on an off-the-boards shot that went right onto his stick.  Alexander Radulov followed it up later in the period with an innocent shot in the outside that just squeezed through Jaroslav Halak’s five-hole.

The Islanders looked out of sorts the entire game and a delayed penalty led to another goal for Dallas. Then, a set-back by Remi Elie after a huge rebound was left in the slot from a Nick Shore slap shot.  Halak was pulled after he let in yet another soft one from Jamie Benn.  It didn’t matter at that point, because the Islanders had put themselves in a massive hole way before the third period had even begun.

Pitlick got his second of the night to make it 5-0 and at that point the Isles fate appeared to be sealed.  This Islanders team never seems out of a game, but a poor start and lack of energy had proven that this night was not theirs.  Anders Lee scored two late goals to stuff the stat sheet, but the damage was already done.

Stars 5, Islanders 2

Thursday, December 14th 2017 – @ Columbus Blue Jackets

Things didn’t get much better, as the Islanders had to travel to Columbus just 24 hours after their game against Dallas.  The Isles desperately needed a comeback, and it seemed like they may have been getting one. The Islanders were buzzing for the majority of the first period, but they went down three goals and once again put themselves in a giant hole.  The Jackets’ first shot of the game was a goal by Zach Werenski.  This was followed up by a tipped shot in front of the net, put home by Markus Nutivaara and yet another PPG off a juicy rebound by Pierre-Luc Dubois.

The beginning of the second period belonged to the Islanders, as they came out buzzing and scored three relatively quick goals to knot things up at three.  Unlike the game against Dallas, the Isles looked like they may have stood a fighting chance. Goals by Josh Bailey, Casey Cizikas, and Bailey again helped the Isles climb out of the three goal hole that they had dug for themselves.  Bailey was magnificent in this game and the tide was very much turning when the Islanders fell apart at the end of the second.
Seth Jones and Nick Foligno essentially ended the game in the second by scoring two quick goals to end the period, and it seemed as though the Islanders comeback was for naught.

Josh Bailey completed a hat trick in the third to bring it to a 5-4 game, but the one goal lead seemed insurmountable after giving those goals right back in the second.  It was Bailey’s first career hat-trick, and it was disappointing to see his efforts wasted.
An empty net goal by Josh Anderson sealed the Isles’ fate, and and they once again suffered a devastating loss.

Blue Jackets 6, Islanders 4

Saturday, December 16th 2017 – vs Los Angeles Kings

The Islanders schedule only continued to get more difficult, as they welcomed the then Pacific division leading L.A. Kings to the Barclays Center.  As is the theme of late, the Islanders went down early, with two quick goals by Oscar Fantenberg and Tyler Toffoli on the PP.  Josh Bailey continued his hot streak by tapping the twine on a beautiful goal at the end of the first to make it a reasonable game.

The second period was a slug-fest with no goals scored, but plenty of room for opportunities.  The Islanders were very lucky in the fact that the Kings had just played the Rangers the night before. It made the Isles look like the fresher team on ice for the first time in several games.

The third period opened up with a power play goal from John Tavares.  The Islanders finally found some puck luck as a shot from Anders Lee  had taken Darcy Kuemper out of position and gave Tavares the chance to complete the goal.  With just three-and-a-half minutes left, Ryan Pulock jumped up in the play to make a beautiful pass in front of the net to Anders Lee. Lee took the puck and put it in the net with a backhand over Kuemper’s shoulder. It looked like the Islanders had this one all wrapped up.  Unfortunately, a mad scramble in front of the net at the end of the game led to Anze Kopitar sneaking one past Thomas Greiss to tie the game and send it to overtime.

Overtime was thrilling, with Thomas Greiss standing on his head against a botched pass that led to a 2-on-1.  His save flung the puck to Mat Barzal, who came back the other way on a 2-on-1 with Jordan Eberle.  Barzal gave his favorite line-mate a beautiful pass, & Eberle made no mistake.  The Islanders got a huge two points out of this game. Eberle and Barzal were hailed as the heroes of the night.

Islanders 4, Kings 3 (OT)

High Tide

Josh Bailey has been on a tear as of late.  He was named the Third Star of the Week for NHL, and scored his first career hat-trick against Columbus.
Bailey has nine points in his last five games with 40 points overall.  He’s sitting at third in the league in assists, and has shown no signs of slowing down.

Another encouraging piece of news is that the ESD will select a winner for the Belmont RDP (Redevelopment Plan).  While it’s not a foregone conclusion, all roads point to the Islanders winning the bid and NYCFC looking elsewhere for a more city-friendly location.  According to Robert Brodsky of Newsday, the bid announcement will take place at 11 AM on Wednesday, December 20th.

Low Tide

Josh Ho-Sang has been an absolute disaster in the past five games or so.  He has played so poorly, that he was actually sent down to Bridgeport and Steve Bernier was brought up.  Unfortunately for Ho-Sang, a team in the middle of the playoff hunt does not have time to help a kid find his legs.  He looked good as soon as he came back up, but his combination of poor passing in the neutral zone, lack of consistency in the defensive end, and hesitancy to shoot the puck when he has it are the reasons for sending him back down to Bridgeport.  Ho-Sang is very talented, but he seems to get in his own way in the NHL and needs some more time in the AHL to learn how to play as a pro.

Let’s hope that next week bodes better for the Islanders.  They are still only a few points out of first place in the division, but also only a few points away from falling out of a playoff spot entirely.  What the Islanders need is consistency on both sides of the puck, as you can’t win every game 5-4 & you can’t lose every game 6-2.  There are going to be some trials and tribulations, but let’s hope that this was their long slide & that they will be more consistent going forward.  One can hope.

Follow me @SupRos22 & make sure to catch all your sports coverage @DoubleGSports.  Let’s go Islanders!  Hoping for a good result from the Belmont conference.

-Chris Passarelli

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