Last night’s game was almost exactly how the New York Islanders needed to play.
The San Jose Sharks appear to be one of the early contenders in the Connor Bedard sweepstakes—Connor Bedard and Connor McDavid, two Connors torching the league for the next ten or more years—and also traveled coast-to-coast, as the Anaheim Ducks had done ahead of Saturday’s game. Kevin Kurz, who covered the Sharks for a decade before coming east to New York, tweeted both Saturday night and last night that going from west to east takes more of a toll than the inverse and that perhaps the Isles have been beneficiaries of being the first opponent of the two California teams when they reach the east coast.
But when playing a trap game, they must not step right into the trap. The first period was a little sleepy to start, culminating in conceding the first goal and ending the period behind 1-0. However, Casey Cizikas and the fourth line provided the energy to drag the Isles into the fight, and they tied the game before the end of the period. They didn’t look back from there, controlling the second and third periods. Even when San Jose tied it again at 2-2, it didn’t feel like it would be long before the Islanders regained the lead. Indeed, Oliver Wahlstrom’s game-winning snipe off the post came less than two minutes later, right off an offensive zone faceoff created by the fourth line hemming in the Sharks.
Anyway, it was refreshing to watch, and I must say that I enjoy watching the (not really) new, more offensively-minded team, even if it will inevitably lead to more mistakes like the one that led to San Jose’s second goal.
The #Isles 45 shots tonight was only two fewer than last season's high of 47, also against the Sharks— Kevin Kurz (@KKurzNHL) October 19, 2022
Next are the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night before hitting the road to Florida over the weekend.
Recaps from last night:
- Wahlstrom sniped two beautiful goals last night and nearly added a late one for the hat trick. [LHH]
- Semyon Varlamov, making his first start of the season, earned the win with some strong play. [3 Takeaways]
- Zach Parise scored, which means he won’t have to wait until December to score this year. [NHL | Rapid Recap]
- Wahlstrom, according to his own coach, is “playing free.” Free of what, I’m inclined to ask—perhaps that was an area of disconnect between Lane Lambert and Barry Trotz. But Wahlstrom appears to be more confident this year. [amNY | NY Post]
- Also, it should be noted that Lambert tweaked his lines last night, and Wahlstrom scored two goals not long after moving up to play with Anders Lee and Brock Nelson. Those of you in the comments who have been banging the drum to put those three together may have been onto something. [Newsday]
Other Isles bits:
- The fourth line’s performance over the first two games they have all been together has shown they still have more to offer. [The Athletic]
- Unlike Roxanne, the Islanders' defensemen do need to turn on the red light. Noah Dobson, Robin Salo, and even Scott Mayfield have answered the bell. [Islanders]
- Alex Romanov hasn’t lit the lamp yet, but he has hit a lot of people and blocked even more shots. [Newsday]
- In a prediction of who will be the top 100 players this season, Ilya Sorokin is no. 82; no other Islanders appear from 51-100. [ESPN] Mathew Barzal, though, is no. 50, and Anders Lee got an honorable mention. [ESPN]
- In a league where you can be out of the playoff race by the end of October, it is still challenging to glean anything meaningful from October’s results. But so far, the Isles’ defense, per one expected goals model, has not been good, making Sorokin’s performances thus far all the more incredible. [TSN]
Last night’s NHL scores include the Vancouver Canucks blowing another multi-goal lead, this time to the Columbus Blue Jackets, though they at least earned a point for their troubles. Also, the Devils came back against the Ducks, and the Ottawa Senators handed the Boston Bruins their first loss in a wild game.
- The Board of Governors met yesterday in New York. [NHL] Gary Bettman revealed to reporters that if the players pay off their escrow debt by the end of the fiscal year—and there’s a decent chance they will—then the salary cap could go up as much as $4 million next season. However, if the debt remains at the end of the fiscal year, the cap will increase by only $1 million. [NHL]
- For intentionally and aggressively high-sticking Canucks defenseman (and one-time Islanders prospect) Kyle Burroughs, Evgeny Kuznetsov received just a one-game suspension. He is pretty lucky. [NHL | Japers’ Rink]
- There’s a rumbly in Pierre LeBrun’s tumbly: He wrote about when Patrick Kane could be traded from the Chicago Blackhawks and Michael Bunting potentially signing an eight-year deal to keep the AAV down. [The Athletic]
- John Tortorella has the Philadelphia Flyers sitting at 3-0-0, including last night’s comeback win in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s home opener. He has led a hard reset for the team. [ESPN]
- Bruce Cassidy talks about coaching the Vegas Golden Knights and what he learned from Darryl Sutter, who coached him in the minors in the late 1980s. [TSN]
- The Detroit Red Wings will be without Tyler Bertuzzi for at least the next month; he has an upper-body injury. [ESPN]
- The NHL released its first-ever diversity and inclusion report, and let’s just say that, predictably, Hockey Does Not Yet Appear to Be for Everyone. [The Athletic]
- Playing for the Los Angeles Kings and living in southern California has rejuvenated Philip Danault. [NHL]
- The first week of the year always comes with some overreaction, like whether it’s too early to put Toronto Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe on the hot seat. [Canoe (?)]
- Anson Carter has held quite a few jobs in his lifetime, and now he can add part-owner of a hockey team, the ECHL Atlanta Gladiators, for whom Bode Wilde plays. [NHL]
- The Salming family shared the details of Toronto legend Borje Salming’s brutal battle with ALS. [TSN Video]