Hello Islander fans!
Before the new year, the Islanders were struggling to be a .500 team. The day after the team recorded a 4-0 shutout win against the Boston Bruins, former head coach Jack Capuano was sent packing. The team has come together full circle under interim coach Doug Weight.
Capuano finished his Islanders tenure with the second-most wins in franchise history (227) behind Al Arbour’s 740. Before Capuano took over as head coach in 2010, the team had made the postseason just four times since the 1994-95 season.
Last season, he helped the team make it past the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 1993, which was the opening to a strong future for the team and its fanbase. However, most fans can agree that it’s time for some change in the organization.
The Islanders have gone 7-2-1 in their past 10 games and 5-0-1 since the head coaching switch.
Over the past few games, the Isles have defeated three of the top five teams in the league including the Columbus Blue Jackets, Montreal Canadiens and Washington Capitals. This is the third time this season the Islanders have defeated the Caps, which is a big confidence boost considering Washington is one of the top teams in the league.
The consistent, nitty-gritty play by the young team has them three points out of a wild card spot with three games in hand. This is largely because Doug Weight has delivered some extra energy in the locker room. If the Islanders can keep stringing together wins, they can quickly jump into the playoff chase after pulling themselves out of the cellar.
Players stepping up
Another part of the team’s success this season against top-ranked clubs has come from players stepping up to the plate and delivering in the right moments.
After a slow start to the season following a 70 point campaign last season, Islanders captain John Tavares has been red hot. He’s recorded 14 points in his last nine games, including a hat trick against the Florida Panthers on Jan. 13 and a two goal performance the following night against the Carolina Hurricanes. He’s also on a three game point streak, with five assists in those games.
The Greiss is right! Goaltender Thomas Greiss has also showed the NHL why he carried the team last year all the way into the second round of the playoffs in his first year as a starter.
Greiss was signed to a three-year contract extension Monday night, and stonewalled the Caps after signing on for another three years.
Since Jaroslav Halak was sent down to the minors on Dec. 31, Greiss and backup goalie Jean-Francois Berube have seen more time on the ice. Greiss has won six of his last eight games, with two of those wins being shutouts. There is not much concern as to how well Greiss will do, as he’s proven his worth over the past year and a half.
Bye bye Barclays, potential return to Nassau?
With Greiss being locked up for three more years, that wasn’t the only reason Monday was eventful for the team. Reports surged on Monday afternoon that the Barclays Center will potentially terminate their relationship with the Islanders after the 2018-19 season.
According to sources, the Barclays would make more money without the Islanders at the Brooklyn arena by holding more concerts and events at the venue.
The Islanders can opt out of their arena agreement after next season, or the Barclays can opt-out after the 2018-19 season. The biggest concern is that the Islanders have to figure out an arena to play in before moving out.
Islanders owners Jon Ledecky and Scott Malkin have looked into building a new arena in Queens or on the property of Belmont Park on Long Island, but nothing is close to imminent there.
However, according to a report from CBS, Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano said on Tuesday that he strongly believes there is a path for the Islanders to return to the new Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
The arena has roughly 13,000 seats, which would be typically small for an NHL crowd and would make it harder for the NHL to approve the move. However, it is believed that a few thousand seats can be added if necessary to accomodate more fans.
As a fan who has witnessed a lot of intense games including Fight Night, Game 4 of the 2013 Playoffs, and even the last regular season game at the Coliseum, it’s good to know that more games could be played sooner than later. Hopefully Nassau County can bring them back sooner than later.