New York Islanders-Up and Coming
The New York Islanders are playing the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight. The Penguins lost in a shoot-out last night against the Ottawa Senators, and the Penguins second best player, Evgeni Malkin, is still out with an injury. To make matter worse for the Penguins, their Captain Sidney Crosby also has had an eventful two last games. In the first one, he speared an opposing player in the groin with the blade of his stick, and in the next game he slashed a player on the opposing team so hard that it partially took off the player’s finger (and that was through his hockey glove)!!! To no one’s surprise, Crosby was not penalized in either game and he isn’t facing any supplemental discipline from the NHL for either of these two incidents. Once again the great, almighty Sidney Crosby, the “savior” of the NHL gets a pass from the league. Hopefully Crosby doesn’t go for the hat-trick of dirty plays and injure one of our players tonight.
So the last game the Islanders played was against the New York Rangers and they won the game 3–2. Despite them winning the game, it wasn’t a “pretty win” as far as Islander fans are concerned. I was lucky enough to be there and witnessed the “ugliness” for myself. I saw a team that still seemed lost despite the magnitude of the game. But all that matters in the end is that they got the much needed win and are getting closer to catching the Bruins for the last wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. They can make it even closer with a win tonight against Pittsburgh. John Tavares has to come out with more intensity they he did against the Rangers. Against the Rangers he had 22 minutes of ice time, picked up three penalties and made several terrible turnovers. Despite his overall bad effort, he still had an assist on the game winning goal in the third period. One of the few bright spots of the night was how well Josh Ho-Sang and Anthony Beauvillier both played. They both played with a lot of energy and created plays that lead to two out of the three New York Islanders goals. Hopefully they will continue playing like this and develop into great players. There was a sour note last night in spite of the Islanders win. Forward Ryan Strome broke his wrist and will be out for the next three to six weeks. Strome broke his wrist on a play where his arm was caught at an awkward angle as Rangers defenseman Brady Skjei moved in to check him. Strome’s recent success will be missed, but luckily we have a similar player in Alan Quine ready to go from the bench.
In other news, goaltender Jaroslav Halak has been called back up to the Islanders from the Bridgeport Sound Tigers and is playing in goal tonight against the Penguins. The last time Halak was up here, he was struggling and giving up weak goal after weak goal. He eventually lost his cool with the three goaltender setup that General Manager Garth Snow and then coach, Jack Capuano, had created and started to alienate himself from the media and his teammates. As a result he was sent down to the New York Islanders farm team, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Everyone, including myself, thought that Halak was going to be traded and never play for the Islanders again. Fast forward a few weeks. The Islanders are in desperate need of a reliable, backup goalie to help them clinch a playoff spot. Berube, the other Islander backup goalie just wasn’t cutting it and was costing the Islanders games and valuable points that they needed to move into a wild card spot. Oh how the tides have turned for Jaroslav Halak. He still doesn’t have the last laugh, however. He still needs to come up big for the Islanders in order to get himself out of the doghouse. If he plays terrible tonight, Islander fans and the Islander organization will think their original assessment of him was correct and send him back down to Bridgeport. So for Halak’s sake, and all of our sakes, let’s hope he has a major comeback game and gets that important win for the Islanders.