Standings-wise, it was a costly weekend for the Isles, as two Penguins victories combined with the regulation loss to the Caps helped Pittsburgh leap them to the first wild card spot by two points, and with two games in hand.
Now the Isles head West for a California trip that includes a SoCal back-to-back Tuesday and Wednesday nights. In theory this trip sets up nicely: The “tough” game is first, in Los Angeles, with the doormat opponent awaiting in Anaheim the next night. Then they head to San Jose for a meeting with the Sharks on Saturday.
While the Islanders are playing the Kings on Tuesday, the Penguins will be finishing up their next game, at home to the Canadiens.
- Three Takeaways from the 5-1 loss: Well, Cal Clutterbuck was back. [Isles]
- He wasn’t permanently on the “Identity Line” though. [Post]
- Which brings up the question of the day: With Clutterbuck and soon J-G Pageau returning, what is the Isles’ optimal lineup combo, and how will Lane Lambert find it? [Post | Athletic]
- And that leads us to candidates to take a seat...such as Pierre Engvall, who got his first Islanders goal, but he’s still adjusting to what they want to see. [Newsday]
- Bo Horvat is eager to return to the electricity of the playoffs. Outside of the crowd-less “bubble” year, he’s not experienced it since 2015. [Post]
- They’re all important, but yes, the Islanders’ California trip is important. [Newsday]
- Casey Cizikas’ TOI has increased lately, but he’s keeping the energy up. [Isles]
- Brooks’ Sunday column, shots fired: The Smurfs may be the third-best metro-area team. [Post]
- The latest Q&Isles has to do with pets: Some Islanders have them, some don’t. [Isles]
- Some of them also drink coffee. [Isles]
Sunday’s key scores included the Penguins winning in overtime over the Rangers. The Senators lost in Calgary, 5-1, one night after also losing in Vancouver. Tonight’s a lighter schedule, including the Sabres in Toronto. Here’s the updated standings.
- Ye gods: Nick Bonino will be out week to week with a lacerated kidney. [TSN]
- Paul Maurice reflects on how tough the East is, and how some good teams will miss the playoffs. “The Islanders have a unique style of game and they can win on that style of game alone. Buffalo is a dynamic team and they’ve gotten better...” [Sportsnet]
- Danny Briere has “no doubt” he can lead the Flyers... (Me, I have quite a bit of doubt that a guy who lost his shit and went dirty on Frans Nielsen (ca. 2010) has the temperament for the job. [NHL]
- At least Briere concedes they need a rebuild though! [Sportsnet]
- John Tavares was fined $5,000 for a slash. When reached for comment, he said, “We have to be better, and it starts with me.” Probably. [NHL]
- James van Riemsdyk was not moved at the deadline, but Trevor soon afterward received a three-year extension from the Capitals. [TSN]
- The Canucks re-signed Phil Di Giuseppe to a two-year extension. [TSN]