It has only been two games, but man, the New York Islanders look like a whole new squad with the addition of Bo Horvat. The Isles’ newly acquired and signed star scored his first as a member of the team, a genuine goalscorer’s goal off a feed from Mathew Barzal, something I hope we hear a lot. Not only that but also the top line generally appeared more dangerous against both the Philadelphia Flyers and again last night hosting the Seattle Kraken.
In fact, the rest of the team has appeared more threatening. Part of that is the sheer jolt of adding a star player to the team. However, an underrated part is that it simply pushes talent down the lineup and, for example, allows the second line of Anders Lee, Brock Nelson, and Kyle Palmieri to face second-line competition more consistently. They, hopefully now more regularly, have more than one line a night that can score.
And what more can you say about Ilya Sorokin? I was at the game last night—great crowd as the night wore on, and it was great to chant Horvat’s name—and after that first dangerous sequence where he stretched out to make two gorgeous pad stops in a row, I impulsively yelled out “Ilya Sorokin I love you!” So if anyone heard that, that was me, and sorry, sort of. Two shutouts in a row for the All-Star netminder.
Anyway, last night’s game was, on paper, the most difficult game of the first five games in February, and much to our delight, they won convincingly. The next three games are winnable, and they kind of need to win all of them. I guess they don't need to, but it would greatly improve their standings position.
aBOut last night:
- Jenny writes about how Horvat and the Islanders “sen[t] the Kraken packin’.” [LHH]
- It was great that Horvat got his first goal as an Islander out of the way in his first home game. The crowd was buzzing when he was on the ice, and his name echoed throughout the building after his goal. And oh yeah, Sorokin got his second straight shutout and fifth of the season. [Newsday]
- It’s a four-game win streak for the Islanders, and the vibes on the ice and in the room are immaculate. Horvat said he’d never heard his name chanted like that. [NY Post]
- It wasn’t just a big night for Horvat, though. Samuel Bolduc got in the lineup because Alex Romanov was out for personal reasons. He made the most of it, playing a solid game and scoring his first NHL goal, which turned out to be the game-winner. [Newsday | NY Post]
1st NHL goal for BOLDUC!!— Isles on MSGSN (@IslesMSGN) February 8, 2023
Isles lead 1-0 pic.twitter.com/rvjl7TwGel
- It’s clear that Horvat’s addition has injected new life into the whole team. They look nothing like the team we wanted to leave for dead two weeks ago. [The Athletic]
- To wit, they scored four whole goals! Is that even allowed? [amNY]
- Before the game, Andrew Gross wondered if Horvat’s home debut could be a signature moment for UBS Arena and lead to another: a scorching run to the playoffs. To that end, the choice to trade for and sign Horvat is off to a good start. [Newsday]
- Stats, highlights, and a neutral recap. Linemates Simon Holmstrom and Zach Parise scored the other two goals, and their line with J-G Pageau was excellent, as well. [NHL]
Onward and backward:
- Neil Best taps in to say what many other local writers have said: The fact that Barzal and Horvat chose to stick around bodes well for the Islanders as a free agent destination. The players around the league do take notice of these kinds of things. [Newsday]
- Gross also dropped a new episode of Island Ice before the game to discuss and play clips from Horvat and Barzal following Monday’s game in Philly, and to answer questions. [Island Ice Ep. 154]
Last night’s NHL scores include the Pittsburgh Penguins stealing an overtime win from the Colorado Avalanche to maintain the final wild card by actual points (as always, four games in hand; our eyes should be on the Washington Capitals, who have only one game in hand and who the Isles trail by only one point).
- The Buffalo Sabres have made a habit of extending their young players before they truly explode and cost them too much money. The latest was Dylan Cozens getting seven years at an AAV of $7.1 million. [ESPN]
- On Insider Trading, they discussed the potential $800 million it would cost to buy the Ottawa Senators and Patrick Kane nearing a decision on waiving his NMC. [TSN]
- Elliotte Friedman has only 31 Thoughts this week, and one of them is that Lou Lamoriello is probably taking the next five to seven games to assess whether to make another move.
- Pierre LeBrun likes to throw around that he knows general managers around the league. Here’s his piece with Dallas Stars GM Jim Nill on his deadline strategy. [The Athletic]
- Here come the Oilers: The Edmonton Oilers have turned it up a notch at even strength in the last month or so while the rest of the West sinks. [TSN]
- The game’s legends think Connor McDavid can only go up from here. [NHL]
- It appears that the NHLPA has bagged current U.S. Secretary of Labor and former Mayor of Boston Marty Walsh as their next executive director. [ESPN]