New York Islanders: Lou Lamoriello’s Case for General Manager of the Year

New York Islanders, Lou Lamoriello

New York Islanders‘ general manager Lou Lamoriello is a nominee for the Jim Gregory award. This award goes to the best general manager of the year, as voted by his peers. Mr. Lamoriello has a strong case for winning this award. The Islanders’ captain and franchise player John Tavares left in free agency, and just 700+ days later, the Islanders are in the ECF. This doesn’t just happen off of good coaching; there needs to be a good roster put forth. Lou Lamoriello gave the Islanders the extra pieces they needed to make a deep playoff run.

Trading for Pageau

J.G. Pageau has been one of the Islanders’ top playoff performers this year. Also, Pageau doesn’t lose too many faceoffs. On top of that, Pageau also is on the penalty kill. Lou Lamoriello traded late-round conditional picks for a second-line center and then signed him hours later to a cheap contract. Pageau is a perfect Islander, and Lamoriello traded virtually nothing for him. How many points did that late first-rounder score?

Signed Ilya Sorokin

The Islanders drafted goalie Ilya Sorokin in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. It took six years just to sign him. Lou Lamoriello not only signed Ilya Sorokin for this year but resigned him to a one year deal. Lamoriello signed Sorokin twice in the span of a day, while Garth Snow couldn’t sign Sorokin at all. Sorokin is going to be a key piece in the Isles’ quest to become Stanley Cup champions.

Signing Derick Brassard

Every Islander fan always moans about how there are too many bottom-six forwards on the roster, how the young guys won’t get a shot because of that. The young guys like Bellows, Wahlstrom, and Holmstrom have to prove they’re worthy of taking spots away from these veterans. Derick Brassard is the name that comes to mind. Yes, Brassard is inconsistent. But, Brassard has scored some clutch goals as of late. Don’t forget his amazing pass to Andy Greene, leading to a goal in game 7.

Trading for Andy Greene

Yes, Andy Greene has taken some costly penalties and turned the puck over a lot as of late. But, he was the perfect replacement for Adam Pelech when he went down. Greene is top 5 in shot blocks, and he’s a veteran leader. His play alongside Dobson in the regular season is amazing for Dobson’s development. Greene has scored some big goals in the playoffs and has been a solid top 6 defenseman.

Conclusion

Lou Lamoriello should be the general manager of the year. He took the Islanders roster from one of the worst on paper to a respectable one. The Islanders are in a better position for the future with Lamoriello at the helm.

New York Islanders: 3 Key Players to Game 3’s Win

Adam Pelech, New York Islanders

Impressive is almost an insult to how the New York Islanders played in game 3. The Flyers maybe won all of 10 minutes out of a possible 60. This game was a swing game, meaning whoever won gets all the momentum in the series. The Islanders got all the momentum and then some. There were three key players to their win, and their play was sensational, to say the least.

Mat Barzal

Mat Barzal missed two golden scoring opportunities in 20 seconds. Barzal made up for this by collecting an assist on the Islanders’ first goal of the game. It’s not easy being double-teamed, especially in Hockey, but Barzal makes it look like it’s an average morning skate. Barzal has woken up since the Florida series. He used to be the turn over machine, but now he’s opening up the offense. Barzal is making smart plays, especially on the power-play, and when Barzal is on his “A” game, the whole team is.

Semyon Varlamov

Islander fans everywhere were frightened to see a repeat performance from game 2 out of their goalie. Varlamov was on his head the entire game. Nothing phased him, not one shot. Varlamov made it look very easy tonight, and that’s a relief to Islander fans. You can’t go far in the playoffs with bad goalie play, just ask the St. Louis Blues. Varlamov got the job done in game three and possibly may play again in game 4.

Adam Pelech

Who’s the most underrated player in all of Hockey right now? If you guessed anything other than Adam Pelech, you’ve guessed wrong. When the Islanders lost Pelech, the team suffered heavily and got away from Islanders Hockey. Now that he’s back, the Islanders are the most dangerous team remaining. Pelech has amazing stick skills, and he’s strong on the puck. Not only is Pelech solid defensively, but Pelech also creates a ton of offense from his neutral zone play. He did it last game on JG Pageau’s game-tying goal, and he did it this game as well. Adam Pelech continues to be one of the best-kept secrets in the NHL.

Honorable Mentions

The captain Anders Lee has arrived, and when your captain scores every game, you better believe the team follows. Lee has six goals now in the playoffs; for someone who disappears typically in the playoffs, Lee has been “captain clutch.” Derick Brassard played a great game as well. Set Leo Komarov up for his goal, when he kept the puck in the offensive zone with 10 seconds left. Glad to see the 3rd line wingers creating offense.

Conclusion

The Islanders have two more wins left to close out this series and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 1993. The Islanders are real contenders, and the NHL better start respecting them.

New York Islanders: Who Should be the 3rd Line Left-Winger?

ross johnston, New York Islanders

The current 3rd line left winger for the New York Islanders is Michael Dal Colle. The Islanders drafted OHL star Michael Dal Colle with the 5th overall pick in the 2014 NHL entry draft. There was no reason to not draft Dal Colle that high. His stats were amazing; Dal Colle recorded 90+ points two years in a row. Somewhere along the road, Dal Colle lost his way. It took him five years to actually make the team and six years to have a real spot. Dal Colle doesn’t provide offense, which is the thing the Isles drafted him for, he just forechecks. Most of the time, it feels like Dal Colle is just skating around out there and not doing anything. There are many other options for the 3rd line left-wingers spot whose names aren’t Michael Dal Colle.

Tom Kuhnhackl

Tom Kuhnhackl was fantastic for the Islanders during their play-in matchup against the Florida Panthers. His forechecking was magnificent, and due to this, Kuhnhackl created countless high scoring chances. JG Pageau’s goal in the first game wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for Kuhnhackl pressuring the defenseman. Kuhnhackl’s passing was on full display during this series too. No Islander fan could forget Kuhnhackl’s through the legs pass to a Matt Martin tap in goal. Kuhnhackl deserves the spot more than anyone else on the team right now. His current play, mixed with his 2 Stanley Cup wins, gives him a leg up on the competition.

Ross Johnston

Who doesn’t love the enforcer, Ross Johnston? Probably not Tom Wilson, but that’s a different story. Johnston does his job, and he does it with maximum effort. He knows he’s there to backcheck, hip-check, forecheck, and then he gets to pick up the paycheck. Johnston is also not a bad skater for a big man. While he doesn’t have amazing speed, Johnston can hop up on the 3v2 rush. If Barry Trotz wants the hits to start coming against the Flyers, Johnston is your man for sure.

Derick Brassard

I don’t believe Brassard did anything wrong vs the Capitals. He isn’t the same player he once was, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a solid winger. He can also win the faceoff when Pageau gets kicked from the center position. Brassard just doesn’t give as much offense as Kuhnhackl or Johnston, but he gives a lot more than Dal Colle.

Conclusion

There are a plethora of wingers that should take Dal Colle’s spot, and for good reason. The Isles are real contenders for the first time in decades, and cannot put people like Dal Colle out there. There’s only so much room for error, and the Isles cannot make mistakes.

Takeaways from the Islanders’ 2-0 win over the Captials

New York Islanders, Cal Clutterbuck

The New York Islanders beat the Washington Capitals 5-2 to take a 2-0 lead in the series. This was one of the best Islander playoff games in recent memory. The Islanders were firing on all cylinders, and for a team who “can’t score,” they scored a lot. The Isles definitely had some rough spots during this game, but that’s expected when playing a great Hockey team like the Capitals. The Islanders won 40 minutes of Hockey last night, but how, and why didn’t they win all 60?

First Period

The Capitals basically pressured the Islanders into giving up a terrible goal in the first period. Alex Ovechkin forechecked, and he was rewarded when he scored off of a slow backhander. Not even a minute in, and the Isles are one down. The rest of this period was really just good pressure by the Isles and some breaks for the Caps.

Second Period

The Islanders came to play in this period. Nic Dowd commits a penalty, and this leads to something the Islanders never do. They scored on the powerplay. Nick Leddy scores with an accurate slapshot from the point. Not even 2 minutes later, Cal Clutterbuck forechecks which leads to a Scott Mayfield pass to the crease, Matt Martin scores a tap in. A minute later, Derick Brassard leads a rush with Leo Komarov. Brassard passes it to Komarov, and he hits it off the post. Komarov missed a wide-open net. Ovechkin would take advantage of this and tie up the game once again. Finally, Brock Nelson steals the puck from Jakub Vrana and has a 1v1 with Braden Holtby. Fifteen seconds after Ovechkin ties the game up, the Islanders lead by one again.

Third Period

The last 7 minutes of this period was the best 7 minutes in recent Isles Hockey. Before that, the refs call a silly tripping penalty on Andy Greene, which leads to a blown empty-net chance by Ovechkin. Ovie had the hattrick and the game on his stick and whiffed on it. Greene comes out of the box, and then the Isles dominate 5v5 play. The Islanders at one point got two forward shifts of forechecking off before the Caps could even leave the zone. All this pressure led to JG Pageau wide open, and it was blocked, but it hit Clutterbuck’s hand and the Isles score, 4-2. Finally, after some tremendous 6v5 defense, the Islanders get the puck out, and Anders Lee scores the empty netter.

Conclusion

This was just a really solid effort from the Islanders. The Capitals are the better team on paper, but that will never stop a well-coached, determined team from winning. Game 3 is on at 12 pm EST tomorrow.

New York Islanders: 3 Key Performances from Saturday’s Win

Adam Pelech, New York Islanders

The New York Islanders beat the Florida Panthers 2-1 on Saturday in game 1 of the series. The Islanders looked very sharp and were enforcing their style of Hockey onto the opposing Panthers. There were three performances that stuck out to me in this hard-fought victory.

The New York Islanders’ Third Line

The third line was probably the best line on the ice yesterday. This line, anchored by Jean-Gabriel Pageau, created countless chances through their forechecking. Tom Kuhnhackl was putting in 110% effort into his forechecking, and this effort would set up the first goal of the game by Pageau, and assisted by Derick Brassard. This line played smart the entire game and didn’t try to get too fancy, got the pucks deep, and chased. The key to this series for the Islanders is to have their depth outplay the other team.

Anthony Beauvillier

The number of times I said, “Wow, Anthony Beauvillier is so good” yesterday is uncountable. Beauvillier seems like he’s the best player on the ice at all times. He’s insanely fast, strong on the puck, has a good wrist shot, and can read 2v1 situations like no other. Beauvillier’s powerplay goal was a great goal, as well. I’m just very impressed by the kid, he went from possibly not making the team to being one of the best on the team.

Adam Pelech

The New York Islanders don’t have a shot of winning without Adam Pelech. This is not an over-exaggeration or a knock against the other defenseman. Adam Pelech is the most impactful player the Islanders have. Pelech is not just impactful on the ice but off the ice as well. The culture change is with Pelech. I mean, there’s a whole fan group with more than 2,500 members about Pelech called the #PelechPosse created by BathtubJake. Besides that, Pelech played out of his mind yesterday, he literally bodyslammed a Panther. His play surprised no Islander fan but surprised every NHL fan.

Honorable Mention

Seymon Varlamov is my honorable mention for this list. Varlamov made 27 saves on 28 shots. Anytime a goalie only lets in one goal, you have to give credit to him. He didn’t make my list, though, due to the performances by the other three players. Also, the one goal he let in was not a goal that should’ve went in.

Conclusion

If the Islanders play like this every game, it’s an easy sweep. If the Islanders take game 2, you could be looking at another sweep. But, you can’t get ahead of yourself like that, take it one game at a time—game 1 to the Island.

New York Islanders: 3 Players who Surprised against the Rangers

Derick Brassard, New York Islanders

The New York Islanders beat the New York Rangers 2-1 last night in an exhibition match. The two teams have been off for four months, and some players like Adam Pelech have missed even more time. Obviously, with such a long layoff, there was some expected sloppiness in both team’s play. Despite this, the Islanders played Islanders’ hockey and controlled mostly the entire game. There were three players in particular who looked like they missed zero time at all, and surprised every Islander fan.

Three New York Islanders’ players who stood out:

Derick Brassard

Derick Brassard was a solid winger on the 2nd line at the beginning of the year and fell off near the end of it. Brassard looked like a changed man out there. His energy was at an all-time high; he was making good passes at the right time, and created chances for other players. Brassard can bring veteran leadership to the playoffs, not like the Islanders need that though; they’re the oldest team in the playoffs. I’m excited to see what Brassard can do on Saturday.

Noah Dobson

Noah Dobson had the best performance of his life last night, too bad the game was somewhat meaningless. Dobson was brilliant on his own end last night. I compared his play this season to a defenseman that cared more about playing offense than defense. Dobson proved me wrong last night, he disrupted the Rangers’ energy completely and was solid on the boards. Barry Trotz will have a hard decision of whether to play Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk or Noah Dobson and Adam Greene on Saturday.

Seymon Varlamov

Seymon Varlamov stood on his head last night. I’ve never seen Varlamov play so well in his entire life. He didn’t let up so many rebounds, he was fast from pipe to pipe, and he had that fantastic three-shot kick save. I’m usually very nervous when the other team gets a clean shot on Varly, but that just wasn’t the case last night. Varly stopped everything in his way. Varlamov will obviously get the nod on Saturday.

Conclusion

The New York Islanders looked amazing against the Rangers last night. This was just an exhibition game, so don’t look too far into the result, even though the Islanders won. The Islanders have a big test on Saturday, the Panthers may not be an elite team, but you cannot rule out any team. The real test will be the players dealing with the pressure that the play-ins bring.