I entered last night’s game thinking that the New York Islanders had already earned the “Success!” label for their gauntlet week of Stanley Cup contenders by defeating two of their division rivals, the New York Rangers and Carolina Hurricanes, in regulation. Even if they lost to the Colorado Avalanche, it overall would have been a very good week. When they fell behind 3-0, I was a little down but still leaned on what I said going in. They already far exceeded my expectations for the week and already prevented the worst-case scenario of 2-7, as I previously feared.
Then, they went out and had even more success than I could have imagined. A three-goal comeback against the defending champions, including four goals in the third period? Get outta here. No way!
Way. And now the Isles are back above traditional and NHL .500 after ripping off three straight regulation wins against three straight Cup teams, each one more impressive than the last.
Something is happening on The Island pic.twitter.com/TOb4HGupiV— Michael Leboff (@TheBigLeebowski) October 30, 2022
About last night:
- I want to declare them definitively “back” so badly, but Dom is probably right in not knowing what to make of this team after an extremely up-and-down first nine games of the season. One thing is for certain, though: The games are going to be a lot more fun on the whole. UBS Arena exploded in a way I hadn’t yet seen—and hadn’t seen since Game 6 of the 2021 semifinal—when Anthony Beauvillier gave them the lead. Beau knows big goals. [LHH]
- After the Avs’ third goal, Lane Lambert called timeout and reinforced that they had been playing well and that they could and would come back. Noah Dobson scored on the next shift, and the rest was history. Also, Semyon Varlamov locked in after three quick goals against. [Newsday]
- An underrated part of the offensive burst: two more goals by defenseman. Dobson got the Isles on the board and gave the team and crowd some juice, and Scott Mayfield was the recipient of Mathew Barzal’s stellar shift and look on the tying goal. [3 Takeaways]
- I’ve been trying to find a clip of the full shift and haven’t succeeded yet, but here’s the longest one I’ve seen so far; it at least captures the end of Barzal’s game of keepaway, recovering his own shot and drawing four(!) Avs defenders to him, leaving Mayfield wide open down low.
- The penalty kill streak is over, but the game was billed as the league’s top power play vs. the league’s top penalty kill. So if the streak is ever going to break, this was the most honorable way to do it, and it was the only one they gave up. Also, Zach Parise, who scored the second goal, had nine shots-on-goal; Dobson had ten attempts, five of which reached the net. [Rapid Recap]
- Hey, the comeback against the Cup champions even earned the Islanders top billing on NHL dot com. “Isle Take That” is the dek headline. [NHL]
- Whenever there’s a big comeback or some other big piece of history in a given game, Eric Hornick’s Skinny becomes even more essential. And this was one of the greatest comebacks in Isles history. [NYI Skinny]
- Lambert said that the Islanders have been doing the “little things” and that has helped them be more successful. [NY Post]
- Likewise, the players reported that the system is coming more naturally to them. And the excitement poked that resolve gene they showed when they’d fall behind in 2020 and 2021. [The Athletic]
- Before the puck dropped, the Islanders honored Josh Bailey for suiting up the previous night in his 1,000th game. He got the framed 1,000 jersey and the silver stick, and three generations of his family joined him on the ice. It was a lovely ceremony. [Newsday]
- Devon Toews, who had an assist on Colorado’s third goal (and misplayed the odd-man rush that led to the Isles taking the lead), had faced the Islanders again before, and had been to UBS Arena, but now he’s a Stanley Cup champion. The Isles players were happy for him if only a little jealous.[Newsday]
- Toews chatted with Shannon Hogan during the second intermission and discussed Bailey’s 1,000th game, speaking warmly of him and describing him as a “second father,” even though Bailey is less than five years older. [Twitter]
- The Baby Isles scored six goals for the second night in a row, but this time, they won! And through seven games, Ruslan Iskhakov has seven goals and eleven points as an AHL rookie (albeit a little older than most AHL rookies). [B-Isles]
- A lot has happened in 50 years of Islanders hockey. We know all the big moments, obviously, but what about some of the underrated quirks? Noel Fogelman dives into one—specifically, the “one-goal” club. [LHH Isles50]
- It appears that Sean Couturier’s initial prognosis was correct, as he will have surgery on his back after all. [NHL] He’ll miss 3-4 months. There has to be some concern given that this is his second back surgery. [The Athletic]
- Justin Holl, defenseman for the Toronto Maple Leafs, has been struggling under pressure. Also, Barry Trotz’s comments this week surely raised some eyebrows around NHL front offices. To combine these thoughts with some speculation: It feels like a foregone conclusion that the Leafs fire Sheldon Keefe and replace him with Barry Trotz, right? [Sportsnet]
- Now comes the article where the Leafs lost their confidence in California, which was common ten years ago when all three were elite hockey teams. For that to happen now doesn’t look good, even factoring in the cross-continent travel. So their character is getting called into question. I love it. [Sporstnet]
- Larry Brooks sounds off on the “competitive balance” in the schedule. Not only are there just three Battle of New York games; there are also only three Battles of Pennsylvania and Battles of Alberta. Also, Brooksie compares the current Leafs and their abject wandering thus far to the 1980 Islanders, a similarly elite team that, to that point, had failed in the playoffs and meandered through most of the next regular season. [NY Post]
- Goalie Devan Dubnyk officially retired from the NHL after playing 12 seasons. The Islanders were good in 2014-15, so I was paying close attention to hockey when Dubnyk, ten seasons removed from being a first-round pick and carrying the big “bust” label, got traded to the Minnesota Wild late that season for a seventh-round pick and completely turned around his career. Happy trails. [NHL]
- In the Battle of Alberta, Flames winger Jonathan Huberdeau left the bench in the first period but returned. Darryl Sutter took the time to explain why: