The Islanders have opened up their regular season firing on all cylinders.
Right from the season opener, I could just tell the Isles have an energy that I have not seen from them before. This year’s team is special.
On Friday, Oct. 10 and Saturday, Oct. 11, the Islanders swept both home-and-home series games against the Carolina Hurricanes to open the season.
The 6-3 win on the road against the New York Rangers on Tuesday, Oct. 14 was a humongous win as well.
Just when everyone thought that the Rangers had the momentum in their favor, the Islanders put up four goals in the third period. Kyle Okposo scored his 100th career NHL goal one minute into the third period. Six different Islanders scored a goal throughout the game. These are great examples of their depth this year for sure. Newly acquired goaltender Jaroslav Halak tallied 40 saves in the win.
This win will give the team a momentum shift for sure.
On Thursday, Oct. 16 the Islanders defeated the San Jose Sharks 4-3 in a shootout win on home ice. Defeating a Western Conference powerhouse was huge.
The Islanders suffered their first loss of the season on Saturday, Oct. 18 on the road against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a final score of 3-1. Not converting on the power play hurt the Isles as they went 0-7. You can’t win them all.
The Isles were then defeated by the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-2 on Tuesday, Oct. 21.
The following day, the Isles placed forward Colin McDonald on waivers and called up forward Anders Lee from their minor league affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Lee will assimilate well with the young Islanders team.
This season, every player is contributing in their own way. Each player has their own specific roles. From top to bottom, every line is clicking.
One highlight of this early season is Brock Nelson, who is just always in front of the net at the perfect time. His hockey sense is off the charts for such a young player. Both Nelson and Captain John Tavares are among the top 10 in the NHL in points at this point of the season.
Having both new additions of defensemen Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy play the big minutes both on the 5-5, power play and penalty kills are huge. The defense is now getting involved offensively, something which has not happened in seasons past.
Another key point is the return of young defenseman, Calvin de Haan, to the lineup. He replaces Griffin Reinhart, who played the first three games for the Isles before getting sent down to the Sound Tigers.
Holding a third period lead is something the Islanders have struggled with maintaining in the past. This season, they have succeeded thus far. If they continue to execute what they have improved on in season’s past, this season will be big.
I am really enjoying the Grabovski-Nelson-Strome second-line. They sure do have chemistry together. Hopefully, Grabovski can return to the ice soon, after suffering a concussion as a result of a hit by Sharks defenseman John Scott.
Goaltending has been sharp, as predicted as well. Halak has proved the Isles now have the solid goaltending they have been long awaiting for.
I certainly believe in this year’s team. This is the best I have seen the Islanders play in a long time. The season is still just beginning, but if the Isles could stay consistent, they will continue to win games. This is the year they are finally growing as a team.
The Isles now have a record of 4-2 and next take on the Boston Bruins, Dallas Stars, Winnipeg Jets and Colorado Avalanche in the next week.