It’s incredible how good this team can look in some stretches and how bad they can look in others. The New York Islanders dropped yet another game in regulation to a team they, frankly, should have beaten.
They’re still clinging to the final playoff spot. But last night’s loss puts them at 2-5-1 in their previous eight contests following a four-game win streak. All of a sudden, they’re part of a crowded field of about five teams that will be competing for two wild cards. As I said yesterday, I guess that’s where we expected them to be, so maybe I shouldn’t be too concerned.
What worries me, though, is watching them lose two games in regulation to the Coyotes. And another to the Blues. And another to the Flyers. It’s nice that they play up to the good teams they face. It can even result in a few wins, such as the Devils game. It also means they’ll lose in the shootout to a team like the Bruins, who really did not play up to their standards on Tuesday night. The Islanders, despite a good effort, couldn’t pull out the win because they don’t have talent that the Bruins have.
That’s the trouble if they only play well against the good teams: They won’t win them all. It’s great in the playoffs, but they need to get there first.
Hey, they’re playing a very good team again tonight in the Vegas Golden Knights, who will be rested against the theoretically tired Islanders. Conventional wisdom would dictate that the Isles get smoked tonight, and that may still happen. But they’ll probably come out and give them a good game, and they might even be able to sneak away with two points. Hopefully, everyone’s healthy.
FIG picks go here. It’s a late one: 10:00 p.m. ET. Good thing it’s Saturday.
Last night’s debacle:
- Too many times we’ve said this season that they had chances but couldn’t beat a team below them in the standings. [LHH]
- To wit, the Islanders have 13 regulation losses, and eight of them are to teams below them in the standings. That’s not good. [The Athletic]
- What gets them a lot is starting slow, allowing the worse team to jump on them. But last night, they went up 2-0 and still lost. Not good. [Newsday]
- Aside from being 2-5-1, they haven’t won since the Devils game. [Rapid Recap]
- Kyle Palmieri came off IR. [Islanders]
- He and Anthony Beauvillier both returned to the lineup. Beauvillier scored a late goal but took a backbreaking penalty, and Palmieri took a big, late hit from Nick Ritchie that smacked his head into the glass. He came back after concussion spotters pulled him, but he came back against the Leafs too, and didn’t play again until yesterday. Hopefully, he’s okay. [Newsday]
- Lane Lambert agreed that they got “outworked,” which is “unacceptable.” Going 0-for-5 on the power play didn’t help, either. [NY Post]
- All season long, the NYI Skinny has highlighted how different the Isles’ record was this season as opposed to last season through the same amount of games. For a while, it was starkly better. Now, the records are getting closer to matching. They have the same amount of regulation losses through 31 games as they did last season. More wins overall, but only five more points.
- Injury updates (Cal Clutterbuck is a pain magnet):
Palmieri re-entered game after leaving #Isles bench. Clutterbuck and Romanov did not— Andrew Gross (@AGrossNewsday) December 17, 2022
Tonight’s debacle and other news:
- Look ahead to tonight’s game against the Golden Knights. They played last night, so at least the Islanders won’t have time to get the Vegas flu. [Islanders]
- Nick Giglia returns for some new Weird Islanders: John Vanbiesbrouck and Chris Terreri. [LHH]
- Mathew Barzal doesn’t necessarily think the rules need to change to increase scoring; the ice is key. And he is one of a few guys who have complimented the ice at Mullett Arena: It’s “awesome.” [Newsday]
- Andrew Gross is opposed on principle to Mullett Arena because it’s a college arena, and honestly, it is a bit “embarrassing” as he says. He also spoke with Zach Parise and Brock Nelson and answered listener questions on this milestone episode. [Island Ice Ep. 150]
- 2022 fifth-round pick and Windsor Spitfires captain Matthew Maggio scored five goals en route to his team’s 6-3 win. He is second in the OHL in goals and points. [Windsor Star]
Last night’s NHL scores feature two other games, all out west: The Blues beat the Flames, and Mats Zuccarello scored a hat trick en route to the Wild’s win over the Blackhawks.
- Mason Marchment of the Stars got a $2,000 fine for embellishment. The ol’ crackdown. [NHL]
- Digging deeper into the surprise contenders this season. Folks are probably correctly skeptical of the Islanders, but they admit their veteran team has performed better than their numbers and is battle-tested. [The Athletic]
- The Capitals face one of their former goalies tonight in Ilya Samsonov, who is eager to prove them wrong. I hate to say it, but we need to root for the Leafs tonight. Ugh. [Sportsnet]