After being Just An Average Team against the league-leading Boston Bruins last night, leading to a very predictable result, the New York Islanders will hit the ice again tonight in Buffalo, when they’ll seek to re-stoke the fire and fragile hopes of an increasingly exasperated fanbase.
I’m not even mad at the players at this point; they’re doing what they’re capable of doing, which based on roster construction and coaching will include dry spells like this. Even during their healthiest and best points of the season, they needed Ilya Sorokin to provide top-flight goaltending. Last night they hung with the Bruins for a decent while, but Boston shut down their rushes and Semyon Varlamov didn’t stand on his head, so yada yada 4-1 to the Bahstards.
Yes, the team misses Adam Pelech, and a healthy Kyle Palmieri could help too. But that’s only to get the team back to the level of wild card team that could maybe(?) push a playoff series to seven games. Meanwhile, they call up a 20-year-old rookie and bench him for the second half of the game as if he kicked a puppy.
This season was low on ambition from the start, a sort of perpetual state of denial, meanwhile the fanbase was led on to the bus with a suspect driver on the winding Andes mountain road with no guardrails: “We’re really getting on this bus? I guess we’re getting on this bus, it’s the only way to get where we need to go.”
We could skip the bus trip entirely and wait till next year, but we subscribe to this abusive business for the persistent hope of being entertained. (Except Flyers fans. Not sure what keeps them in it.) We are not being entertained. And every player is another year older.
Leave First Islanders Goal picks for tonight here. Bonus points if you dare to say it will be on the power play. (I kid. No bonus points.)
Islanders News: ‘Welcome to the NHL! Also: F-you!’
- The callups of William Dufour and Dennis Cholowski “sent a message” (But apparently that message is “Donn’t worry, only the 20-year-old kid in his NHL debut will be held accountable.”) [Newsday]
- The punchless Isles had no answer for the Bruins, which was to be expected. [LHH | Post]
- Brock Nelson: “Frustration is high for sure.” [Isles]
- Lane Lambert “liked” Dufour’s first period, which makes the abridged second period and benching for the rest of the game all the more mind-boggling. [Post]
- The lineup changes did not make a difference against the Bruins. [Newsday]
- I’d feel ashamed for handing Linus Ullmark his 100th win but apparently he’s good now. [NHL]
- Kevin Kurz went with the “nothing’s changed, so here’s the previous game’s recap” move. [Athletic]
- J-G Pageau says Alex Ovechkin’s hit was pretty shady, and he should know better. [Newsday]
- Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of the Isles’ big “we’re finally getting somewhere” 9-7 win over the big bad Bruins. [Isles]
- Bridgeport Report: After ending their losing streak, the B-Isles have a couple at home. [Isles]
- That poor baby. [Isles]
The Islanders PP has no one who acts like they believe they can score — except Barzal, who’s straightaway shot threat isn’t the best. Wonder if Jordan Eberle would help?
#Isles Lane Lambert harps on 0-for-6 PP, says it has to "get something going for us," acknowledges he has to consider changes.— Andrew Gross (@AGrossNewsday) January 19, 2023
Wouldn't outright call this season's lowpoint but says team has to start collecting points.
Last night’s other NHL scores include the Penguins losing in OT to the Senators, plus some Western fare.
- If you really want to hear about it, the lousy Canadiens want to sign Caufield to a long-term contract and all that David Copperfield kind of crap. [NHL]
- Are the Panthers a huge disappointment or not? Let’s let their GM decide. [Athletic]
- The Canadiens will be without top pick Juraj Slafkovsky long term after yet another injury, but the Habs think he will keep learning the game at the NHL level. [TSN]
- The Coyotes unveiled some alternates that are, um, “fashion inspired,” I’m told. [NHL | ESPN]
- Ivan Provorov decided it’s just too much for him to join what is basically a simple, symbolic pre-game gesture that acknowledges the humanity of fellow humans who are gay...which is his right, as is the right of everyone who says “Really? That’s the stand you’re taking?” [Sportsnet] The league says players can choose what initiatives to support, which is also true. [Daily Faceoff]
- Steven Stamkos has reached 500. And to think, he owes it all to Barry Melrose. [NHL]
- The Sharks traded some guy to the Red Wings for some guy. [TSN]