Michael Leboff said on Islanders Anxiety around this time last year that the bye week and All-Star break was as much-needed a break for New York Islanders fans as it was for the players because this team is exhausting to watch and they make us get sick of them. Of course, not long after he said it, the Islanders traded for Bo Horvat, which then made us fans want the break to be over as soon as it started.
However, I think Mike’s quip about the break applies to this season too, and I don’t foresee a Bo Horvat trade coming to excite us—the Patrick Roy hire was this year’s Horvat trade. And don’t get me wrong: I’m excited about the Roy hire. They’re already controlling play way better than they were under Lane Lambert.
But my god they seem to be just dumb as hell, and in the worst moments. I’m so sick of this team just handing points away in the final minutes of games. Like, what on earth was Pierre Engvall thinking not chipping that puck off the boards right after his teammates came back and tied the game, avenging Adam Pelech’s certain concussion? Just insanely stupid and I’m getting mad again typing about it. If he makes the smart play, the Islanders are only two or three points back of a playoff spot. Now they’re four back.
Just throwing the season away. I can count now three games (and maybe I’m even missing some, but I’m thinking this one, Nashville, and New Jersey) that at least looked like they were going to OT where someone makes an egregious turnover in the dying minutes or seconds, at the worst possible time, and hands the other team the game-winning goal and a regulation win. That’s at least three points and up to six points; if they won at least one of those and lost the other two in OT, they’d be in a playoff spot right now—to say nothing of the multiple other blown leads this season. Confounding, irritating, infuriating team.
So yeah, I need the break this year as much as they do.
About last night:
- What a gut punch to come all the way back just to flush it down the toilet like that. [LHH]
- The guys know that the penalties and turnovers are what’s killing them. And yet it keeps happening... [Newsday] Roy knows it, and hopefully, he can coach it out of them.
Roy said they need to work on their mistakes and that penalties are killing their momentum. Proud of their resiliency but need to clean things up. #Isles— Stefen Rosner (@stefen_rosner) January 26, 2024
- It was a furious comeback though. [NY Post] All the non-LHH articles say the comeback came up short, but it didn’t. They did come back. Then they blew it. [THN]
- Credit to Habs goalie Sam Montembeault: He honored Roy by playing great as a Montreal goalie. The Islanders put up nearly seven expected goals but he only allowed three. [The Athletic]
- Pelech got concussed on a hit that should make Brendan Gallagher an unpaid spectator for the next ten games—Matt Cooke-esque, I haven’t seen someone throw an elbow like that in a decade, and even Gallagher’s former teammate P.K. Subban called it “inexcusable”—and Hudson Fasching left after crashing into the boards early in the second. [3 Takeaways] Matt Martin was a late scratch with an illness. [Isles DTD]
- They’re 2-7-1 in their last ten—January is the new Woevember. 20-17-11 is an absolutely insane record. [NYI Skinny]
Not about last night, necessarily (not the on-ice play):
- The Canadiens are a classy organization and fanbase: During “Oh, Canada,” the organization put up a montage of Patrick Roy photos, making him emotional. Watch it here. [Islanders] He was touched, no doubt. [NY Post]
- Roy didn’t want the night to be about him, though. He deflected to his team. He’s so cool. [Newsday]
- Roy revealed that Lou Lamoriello offered him the job last Friday, although it wasn’t clear if it was before or after the Blackhawks game. [Newsday]
- The new boss wants the Islanders to embrace their creativity. So far, it’s working: In back-to-back games, they set their season-high in shots while limiting chances against. [amNY]
- Alex Romanov seems to have found an offensive touch. A welcome development. [Islanders]
- Henrik Tikkanen got called up from ECHL Worcester to AHL Bridgeport when the Islanders needed Ken Appleby, and he earned himself a job. Appleby got demoted, instead. Tikkanen has probably already passed Jakub Skarek in development despite having just turned pro in North America last year. [THN]
Last night’s NHL scores include some more fortunate results, somewhat. Both the Devils and Flyers lost in regulation, although Philadelphia lost to the Red Wings—at least it wasn’t a three-point game. The Lightning won, though. Ironically, even though it’s five points out of their grasp, the Islanders’ best shot at a playoff spot might be the third seed in the extremely mid Metro.
- Also, the Oilers won yet again, their 15th in a row, tying the record the Islanders set back in the ‘80s, which is now the third-longest streak in NHL history. What a bizarre season in Edmonton; from 31st place to near-lock to make the playoffs. [Sportsnet]
- Gallagher managed to earn the ref uttering “match penalty” for intent to injure, which you almost never hear anymore. When the Islanders see the Canadiens again in April, somebody better plaster that guy into oblivion. [TSN]
- The Rangers took a flyer on Nick Bonino this summer. Once an effective player, he’s cooked now, and they waived him. [NHL]
- The Flames waived two guys the day before, and both of them got claimed. [TSN]
- As the Trade Deadline approaches, Senators GM and old friend Steve Staios says that Vladimir Tarasenko “could” be dealt but not Jakob Chychrun. [NHL]