The Islanders continued to roll this week as they won all 3 games they played and are in the midst of a current 4 game-winning streak. All 4 games were against non-playoff contenders however that’s what the good teams do; beat bad teams. The Isles latest game saw them beating Columbus by a score of 6-3. The Islanders are now 18-2 against the rest of the Metropolitan division, a main reason why they are where they are in the standings. The key to success is beating up on the bad teams and being successful within your own division and right now the Islanders are doing both of those things. The Islanders will host the Rangers on Monday night where they hope to continue their excellence within the division and to keep gaining some ground on the rest of the division.
There was a while where I would continuously say that John Tavares was not playing his greatest hockey. Well you can put an end to that notion because right now he may be one of the hottest players on the planet. JT is slowly creeping his way back up amongst the league leaders in points and right back into MVP consideration. He still has a ways to go but if he keeps up this torrent pace who knows what he is capable of. Lately he has been playing with a real edge to his game and his line mates are reaping the benefits. Even without Okposo, Bailey and Lee are filling in very nicely. Lee may have secured himself a permanent spot on the top line with JT. He goes to the dirty areas, sits in front of the net slapping home rebounds, and is very strong on the puck. His lack of speed doesn’t show because JT generally has the puck and all Lee has to do is get open or just keep the play moving. Bailey has also been playing the best hockey of his career on the top line with JT. Tavares just has a way to make every player around him so much better (i.e. Matt Moulson).
What’s even more impressive is that the rest of the team really isn’t playing their best hockey. While the 4th line continues to show why they are arguably the best 4th line in all of hockey, the 2nd and 3rd lines have all but vanished. Before the game against Columbus, Nielson and Strome were in major scoring droughts so it was nice to see each of them notch a goal. Nielson continues to be on of the more underrated players in all of hockey so it’s nice to see him get on the score sheet. As for Strome, he is still young and still improving and even when he isn’t putting up points you can see the facets of his game that could potentially make him an all-star caliber player in the future. One really glaring concern is the play of Brock Nelson. He started off the year scorching hot and since then he has rarely been seen or heard from. Whenever he gets a chance to bury the puck it seems like the puck just always bounces of his stick or just won’t go in. He’s been just about invisible out on the ice. I’m sure he still has a bright future ahead of him, but right now he needs to find a way to turn this campaign around. He is still amongst the team leaders in goals and points but the fact that he hasn’t scored in ages is really concerning.
While the PK is still absolute garbage it is worth noting that they were 4 for 4 in their latest game against Columbus, which is a good sign. Hopefully they can build off that performance and continue to execute because it will be important for the Islanders special teams to figure it out if they want to make a run at the cup.
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Featured Image via Ray Stubblebine