The New York Islanders were off yesterday but should be back on the ice this afternoon (morning Pacific time). As such, there isn’t a ton of news on their end. But tomorrow night, they close out their California trip with a visit to the Bay Area and the San Jose Sharks, currently the only team officially eliminated from playoff contention.
So they’ll be playing another team whose management intends for them to be bad but who is at the point in the season where the pressure is off, and they’re just trying to finish strong. They also have Erik Karlsson, who is having a wonderful but wasted renaissance season. The Islanders will need to bear down, as they did against the Anaheim Ducks, and take care of business.
In other news, Happy St. Patrick’s Day, Islanders fans.
Wishing #IslesNation a Happy St. Patrick's Day! pic.twitter.com/uB3ZPsbXha— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) March 17, 2023
- It’s going to be difficult down the stretch, but the Islanders do have the easiest remaining schedule by opponent point percentage among teams in the Eastern Conference. [Newsday]
- When Andrew Gross wrote this article, the Isles had better odds on Moneypuck than the Panthers, but after Florida’s win last night, they moved just ahead of the Isles. I think HockeyViz still gives the Islanders better odds, and I find HockeyViz to be more accurate generally, but it’s all so close that it’s a crapshoot at this stage. Also, I linked to HockeyViz, but you need to be subscribed to see the charts before 2:00 p.m., so I can’t confirm exactly what the odds are; I’m doing math based on what I saw on their Playoff Implications charts yesterday afternoon.
- Based on all that, a loss to San Jose would be nothing short of disastrous. They should try to avoid that! [NY Post]
- You could see a little frustration setting in during the first half of the Ducks game, but they didn’t let it get to them. Pierre Engvall’s presence (and goals) have been a big boost. [The Athletic]
- Brock Nelson has hit 30 goals for the second consecutive season and only the second time in his career. His confidence in his deceptively wicked shot continues to grow. [NYI Hockey Now]
- The Islanders announced that their final Saturday home game, April 8 against the Flyers, will be Jerry Garcia night; only 2,000 bobbleheads will be available, though, as opposed to the usual 10,000 for a player. [Islanders]
- Speaking of bobbleheads, if you’re the fastest to answer the most questions correctly in this Butch Goring Trivia quiz, you’ll get a bobblehead of no. 91. [Islanders]
Last night’s NHL scores feature two helpful results and one unhelpful one—and the unhelpful result was probably the most important game of the three in terms of scoreboard-watching. The Penguins lost to the Rangers, 4-2, and the Senators couldn’t complete the comeback against the Avalanche, falling 5-4.
But we really could’ve used a Panthers loss, and we got quite the opposite last night, a game in which goaltending was optional. The Cats and Canadiens combined for 10(!) first-period goals, with Florida scoring seven of them en route to a 9-5(!) win. Montreal did us a favor on Tuesday by beating Pittsburgh, so we’ll forgive them, for now. [NHL]
- Jordan Binnington had a Player Safety hearing yesterday for being a gigantic baby [NHL], and he got two games for it. [NHL] I saw an interesting take on Twitter: He is a baby, yes, but he’d be a pretty good heel if he picked his spots better instead of only losing his mind when he’s getting shellacked, as he did again this time.
- The 10 Hobey Baker finalists were announced. Projected no. 2 overall pick Adam Fantill and last year’s no. 3 overall pick Logan Cooley are among the potential winners. [NHL]
- Just when we thought we were done with a Doan throwing elbows and getting unnecessary praise and Hall of Fame chatter for it, here comes Shane’s son, Josh Doan. He is leaving Arizona State and signing with the Coyotes. [NHL]
- Sam Gagner, who I often forget is still in the league but has played greybeard for the Winnipeg Jets this season, will miss the rest of the year with a lower-body injury. [TSN]
- Ryan Reynolds is still involved in the bidding process to own the Ottawa Senators, and folks, you can’t underestimate him. Trust me, Elliotte, I’m not. [Sportsnet]