30 Thoughts on the Islanders: Much to be thankful for

Sweep? That's all well and good but who will sit for Grabner?! - Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports


1- Hat tip to the LHH gang for arguing over roster adjustments when Michael Grabner returns on the heels of taking two in a row from the Pens. I mean, literally within an hour after the game was over. Well done, folks. LOL!

2- Flyers tonight. It'll be interesting to see if there's a letdown after an emotional two game run.

3- Say what you will about the role of the enforcer, but it seems every game there's one knuckle-dragger who's sent out to send a message. Until knuckle-draggers go the way of their Neanderthal brethren, it's going to be incumbent upon teams to dress guys who will stand up to them.

4- Steve Downie - thought he was a news anchor once-upon-a-time on ABC. Apparently, I was mistaken. In reality he's just a tool.

5- I'm really enjoying living in this alternate universe where the Isles are 8-2 in November and 14-6 overall, tied for 1st place.

6- It is staggering to me how deep this team really is.

7- Interesting that no Isles in top five in most categories. That speaks to the aforementioned depth.

8- Home crowd on Saturday night literally shook my sound system. The Barn was a-rockin'.

9- Great seeing Billy the Kid return to the Old Barn. Goose Bumps. The guy was such a warrior: petulant, aggressive, tough, clutch. Based upon his quotes, that doesn't seem to have changed.

10- Islanders: the best pro sports team right now in the New York Metro Area. Pretty amazing.

11- Isle's record this season when leading after two periods: 7-0.

12- Jaro Halak sporting a .918 Sv% so far this year.

13- Tavares played his best game of the season Saturday night, in my opinion. He stayed within himself, didn't try to do too much. At a point per game pace, he's having a good season so far, needs 80 points in 62 games to reach 100. Doable, but...

14- It is comforting to know that JT doesn't have to score 100 points for this team to have success.

15- Cappy's next challenge: managing the return of Michael Grabner into the lineup.

16- Per Staple: Nick Leddy is huddling soon with his agent to lay the groundwork for his next contract negotiations. He is 23 and an RFA after this season, and has played like someone the team should look to keep for a long time.

17- I am impressed by the team's low-key demeanor despite their success. Focus continues to be one game at a time, so important over a long season.

18- Kudos to Matt Martin - tied both games against the Pens after Isles trailed 1-0, and has upped his game quite a bit over the last couple of weeks.

19- Isles play a slew of division and conference games over the next few weeks that could help determine playoff seeding.

20- More on Smitty: I thought his comment regarding the dynasty team's familiarity with one another was interesting. Different era, but pretty significant that 16 guys spent "7-8 years playing together." Awful lot of time for the team to gel.

21- To the above point, modern hockey doesn't have that type of luxury. Even the Penguins, who had a pretty good run with a core group of players, seem to be coming to a crossroads. That franchise will have some difficult decisions to make over the next few years.

22- I had a feeling that once he netted his first, Ryan Strome would pot a few more over the following several games.

23- Hard not to get excited about Strome, Nelson and Lee. Sometimes the growing pains are worth it.

24- Michael Del Colle has 15g, 23a, 38 pts in 18 games with Oshawa so far this season.

25- The paradigm shift in the media-team relationship is one that will take some time. Isle's fans have context when viewing this team, thus it is easy to see how much better they are than they were just a year ago. Most national publications don't have that luxury, and tend to only pay attention when a team forces them to. The Islanders are doing just that, and should provide plenty of reason for national writers to engage throughout the rest of the season.

26- As an aside, very few mentions of the Isles from one of my favs, Elliotte Friedman, in recent ‘30' articles. A bit of a disappointment, given the team's play.

27- To be fair, coming up with 30 thoughts each week is tough.

28- Right now the Rangers sit in 9th place in the East. One can dream, right?

29- Have to wonder, is the divide between the eastern and western conferences shrinking this year? LA and Chicago are still the elite, but looking at the top 4 teams in the east: Mtl, TB, NYI and Pitt all have the type of talent and depth to give both a run for their money. Something to keep an eye on.

30- Andrew MacDonald and Mark Streit visit tonight. Hope they're given a warmer welcome than Nabby was last week.

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