The New York Islanders tonight wrap up a quick trip to Ontario against the Ottawa Senators. The last time the Islanders were in Ottawa, they played at 5:00 p.m. and got pretty severely outshot but managed to take the win in regulation. Things were looking decent; although they dropped the next two games, they followed that up with their four-game win streak around Thanksgiving. My, how things have changed.
This time in Ottawa, the Islanders need to stop the bleeding. They can reasonably expect to be outshot again, but if they can manage to score three goals tonight, I like their chances. Lately, that has been a huge “if.” However, the Senators concede a lot of goals and struggle to score even more despite their shot totals, so tonight’s the Isles’ best opportunity in a while.
January has been brutal, but we knew it would be based on the schedule. Although I certainly didn’t see it playing it out this poorly, it was always possible that it would go as badly as it has. That being said, February and March are not nearly as deadly. These next three games, if they manage to win them all, could revive the season: It would turn an ugly 2-7-3 January into a respectable 5-7-3 and an overall record of 26-21-5 at the bye week/All-Star break, which is still not good but livable considering the schedule difficulty. Meanwhile, for the teams around the Islanders in the wild card race, February and March are at least comparable in difficulty to the Islanders if not more challenging.
Trust me, I’m not getting my hopes up here. I don’t feel good about the Vegas game—hell, I don’t feel good about any of them the way things have been going, and I could easily see January ending 2-10-3—but there is still potential for this season not to be lost. And if the slide continues, well, I think that would put the Isles in the lottery race!
- A preview of tonight’s game. The Senators lost Josh Norris again.
- The Isles have been outscored 35-17 over the last ten miserable games, but what’s worse is that they’re “stumped” by their defensive woes. That’s not good that they don’t have the answers. [Newsday]
- Though they still conceded five goals and he was a -3, you could see in the first period the influence Adam Pelech has on the defense. Now that he’s back, hopefully, they have some answers to their defensive deficiencies. [The Athletic]
- President and GM Lou Lamoriello has made rash coaching moves before. Even though Lane Lambert’s tenure is only 49 games old, it’s fair to wonder if his job is safe. [The Athletic]
- Barry Trotz is still technically under contract, and Lou has rehired coaches (Larry Robinson, Jacques Lemaire). Wouldn’t that be something?
Trotz and Lamoriello speak at least once a week. Trotz is still under contract. He would be a candidate. Barry is under no obligation to return. He’s likely better off taking over a new team this summer, but you never know. Trotz likes Lou and Scott Malkin, and Trotz is loyal.— Chris Botta (@ChrisBottaNHL) January 24, 2023
- Speaking of Barry Trotz, he sat down with The Athletic to discuss life in the NHL, as well as his thoughts on the Maple Leafs and Bruce Boudreau. [The Athletic]
- Mike Bossy gets the NHL99 treatment, coming in at No. 12. This one was much better than the Bryan Trottier article, as it was written by Wild beat writer and Long Island native/former Isles diehard Michael Russo. It touches on both his goal-scoring prowess—Butchie thinks if he had a full career, the goals record would be his and not Gretzky’s—and his fatherhood.
- While we’re talking about Bossy, yesterday was the 42nd anniversary of the night he became only the second player in NHL history to score 50 goals in 50 games. [This (Yester)day in Isles History]
Last night’s NHL scores include a wild, goals-filled three-point game between the Penguins and Panthers that Pittsburgh won 7-6 in overtime. The Red Wings and Sabres also won, but the Capitals lost in regulation.
- Our prayers and best wishes go out to Senators’ assistant coach Bob Jones, who has been diagnosed with ALS. [NHL]
- The Carolina Hurricanes again have cap space to work with at the deadline after Max Pacioretty went down for the season, but they’re in no rush to use it. [TSN]
- Regarding the trade market, Ryan O’Reilly is officially on the market, meaning the Blues are punting this season. Also, Ottawa is apparently open to both buying and selling, so things are going great in the Canadian capital. [TSN]
- Nick Suzuki is a non-Francophone captain of Les Canadiens de Montréal, but he’s taking a crash course in French to better communicate with la belle province. [ESPN]
- New hockey cards honor indigenous players and shed new light on the contributions of Native Americans and First Nations players. Ted Nolan finally gets his rookie card. [Newsday]
- Gary Bettman attended last night’s win for the Bruins in Montréal and met with the media beforehand. Among the topics, he stated that the 2018 Canada junior team investigation is “really close to the end.” [TSN]