Last season, the New York Islanders sat on five wins from November 6 until going up to Ottawa and winning 5-3 on December 7. After losing the first two in regulation, they accumulated points in seven straight games and then, starting with game no. 10, lost eleven consecutive times.
This season, at game no. 10, the Islanders already have win no. 6. They sit at 6-4-0, all regulation wins and losses—they have yet to go to OT—and have gotten progressively better as we move into the second month of the season.
Recaps from last night:
- It was a low-event game, the type that makes for a good road win. And Brock Nelson scored a goal and added an assist. The floodgates have opened. [LHH]
- That’s three straight games with a goal for Nelson after having none through the first seven games. He’s already tied for the team lead at 4. [3 Takeaways]
- Anders Lee had a power-play goal, and Zach Parise sealed it with an empty-netter. [Rapid Recap]
- The Blackhawks tried to rally after their own power-play goal, but they got clamped. [NHL]
- They are fourth in the NHL in total goals for at 33. And despite giving up a power-play goal, it remained strong, killing off four other penalties, including Casey Cizikas’ major. [Newsday]
- Matt Martin didn’t play last night, as he is back home with a new baby, but Ross Johnston subbed in. Andrew Gross wrote a story praising the resurgence of the fourth line, and then Cizikas got tossed. [Newsday]
- While their goals leaders don’t have gaudy totals, the Islanders join the Bruins as the only teams where at least seven players have three goals. It adds up to 3.56 goals-per-60 at 5v5, the best in the league. They are scoring 3.6 goals per game, and that’s with only four power-play goals. If the power play can get going, oh baby. [The Athletic]
- In their current four-game winning streak, they have outscored their opponents 11-2 in the third period. [NYI Skinny]
- The goals don’t appear to be smoke and mirrors, either. They’re generating the fourth-most expected goals. Try this tweet on for size.
I'd be watching out for the #Isles— CJ Turtoro (@CJTDevil) November 2, 2022
They are scoring the most 5v5 goals per 60 in the NHL, generating the 4th-highest expected goals, have a Vezina-caliber goaltender, and their top-4 looks pretty solid.
- The Islanders’ strong showing and wins against three straight contenders proved to themselves that, in Mathew Barzal’s words, “[they] can really beat anybody.” [amNY]
- What has helped is that they are starting to get comfortable playing defense in Lane Lambert’s system. [Newsday]
- Blackhawks coach Luke Richardson enjoyed his season as an Islanders assistant coach under Doug Weight, even though he oversaw a historically bad defense. [Newsday]
- The Bridgeport Islanders won in the shootout yesterday morning, with Aatu Räty deflecting a Dennis Cholowski shot for his second goal in as many games and William Dufour ending the shootout. They are 6-1-1-1. [B-Isles] The win gave Brent Thompson 300 career wins as an AHL head coach, all in Bridgeport. [B-Isles]
- Also, diminutive 2018 second-rounder Ruslan Iskhakov was named AHL Rookie of the Month for October with four goals and eleven points in eight games. [Islanders]
- Meanwhile, the Islanders ECHL affiliate, the Worcester Railers, is perfect to start the season at 5-0-0. They, like the B-Isles, have loftier goals in mind. [Worcester Telegram]
Last night’s NHL scores include the Rangers white-knuckling to a 1-0 OT win over the Flyers, the Bruins stunning the Penguins from down 5-3 to a 6-5 OT win, and the Kraken erasing a 4-2 deficit with three goals in under five minutes in the third to steal a 5-4 win from the Flames.
- The Bruins are wild. They are now 9-1-0 to start the year, and they did most of that without Brad Marchand and all of it without Charlie McAvoy.
- Ondrej Palat underwent groin surgery and is out indefinitely. The New Jersey Devils themselves do not know the timeline. [ESPN]
- Young Anaheim Ducks defenseman Jamie Drysdale will be out for 4-6 months recovering from a shoulder injury. That could end his season. [ESPN]
- And Washington Capitals forward Connor Brown underwent surgery that will sideline him for 6-8 months. [TSN]
- The Ottawa Senators are officially for sale. Eugene Melnyk’s family is not nearly as cheap as he was, but they must be ready to get out of the business. [Ottawa Sun]
- Elliotte Friedman has some words about that, as well as the Maple Leafs’ and Blues’ struggles and Shane Wright’s lack of ice time, in Not Quite 32 Thoughts.
- The Toronto Maple Leafs’ players are not concerned with Sheldon Keefe’s job security, which they meant as “we have bigger things to focus on” but missed completely the reality of it, which is that it seems like they’re playing to get him fired. [TSN]
- Down Goes Brown laments how even though the Leafs are arguably the best-assembled team they have ever had, watching them is a miserable chore at this point. He also threw in the below line, which I feel was directed at Islanders fans writ large but especially Michael Leboff, who has admitted on Islanders Anxiety that he thrives on a steady diet of Leafs schadenfreude. [The Athletic]
[Being a Leafs fan is] becoming a very hard job too.
I’m not the only one feeling that, right? I’m talking to the fans here, not the anti-Leafs weirdos who claim not to care about the team but still read pieces like this for some reason; we know you guys are enjoying all this.