The Islanders have returned to the win column after losing two straight games against the Penguins and Maple Leafs.
Islanders newcomers, defenseman Johnny Boychuk and goaltender Chad Johnson, returned to Boston as the Islanders visited TD Garden on Thursday, Oct. 23.
The Isles left Boston with a 3-2 win. Forwards Frans Nielsen, Kyle Okposo and Cal Clutterbuck scored goals for the Isles. Johnson tallied 32 saves in the win. The former Bruin now has a record of 9-0-0 in 10 career games at TD Garden.
The win resulted in forward Josh Bailey being placed on the injured reserve list with a broken hand. He will be out of action for several weeks. Bailey has been playing his best hockey in years so far this season, so hopefully, the injury and loss of Bailey will not affect the team drastically. They do have a whole range of depth. The worry is always if a player comes back off of an injury, they won’t be as effective as they were before.
However, forward Mikhail Grabovski returned to the lineup on Saturday, Oct. 25 against the Dallas Stars. The Isles won the game 7-5 at home. Grabovski tallied two assists during the game.
Nikolay Kulemin scored his first goal as an Islander and it came shorthanded. Kulemin will be a great and effective player on the penalty kill. He finished the night with two points as he assisted on Frans Nielsen’s first goal of the night.
Nielsen has proven he can take on any role for the Isles, whether it is full-strength, on the powerplay or the penalty kill. Nielsen netted his first career hat trick during the game. All three goals were scored during the third period. The third goal of the hat-trick was scored as time expired in the third period.
I approve of the line changes to put Grabovski and Kulemin together, with Nielsen centering the second line. Grabovski and Kulemin played together for five years during their tenure in Toronto. They know each other’s styles and already bring that chemistry to the line. The line has been clicking already.
Defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky has returned to the lineup as well. Hopefully, “Viz” could give the Isles another added veteran presence on the blue line. He tallied his first goal of the season against the Stars.
Forward Colin McDonald, who was placed on waivers last week has been assigned to the Islanders’ minor league affiliate Bridgeport Sound Tigers. On the other hand, recent call-up Anders Lee has been playing on a line with Brock Nelson and Ryan Strome. Originally on the second-line, Nelson, Strome and Lee are now on the third-line. Lee contributed a goal in the game as well. Lee, scored nine goals and dished out five assists for a total of 14 points in only 22 games in his first full NHL season. He can only improve from here. The “kids” line will have a huge impact on the team. Nelson, 23, Strome, 21 and Lee, 24, will gain chemistry every game.
Nelson and Captain John Tavares still rank amongst the top 10 in the NHL in points.
On Tuesday, Oct. 28 the Islanders played host to the Winnipeg Jets and were defeated 4-3.
The team continues to display their roster depth.
Another strong point which has benefitted the Isles in this early point in the season is the home crowd at the Nassau Coliseum. When I watch the games on television, I can just tell how many passionate Isles fans are there cheering on their team.
The Isles now have a record of 6-3 and will next begin a five-game west coast road trip starting Thursday, Oct. 30 against the Colorado Avalanche.
The upcoming West Coast road trip will be a test of endurance and strength for sure.