New York Islanders: 3 takeaways from win over Devils

New York Islanders, Mat Barzal

The New York Islanders prevail victorious once again after beating the New Jersey Devils with a score of 4-1. Everyone criticizes the Islanders’ ability to score, or lack thereof, but they scored in bunches last night. Yes, it does help to play against a goalie who hasn’t played in the NHL in 3 years. But Scott Wedgewood held his own and gave the Devils every chance to level the game, his defenders let him down. Lindy Ruff plays aggressive Hockey with his defenders. They normally pinch up way farther than any other team, and this leads to 2v1’s. The Islanders literally only score on 2v1’s. Nevertheless, it was a complete performance last night and proved many things to the fans.

Mat Barzal Can Shoot

When people look at the Islanders’ roster on paper, they say, “there’s no one who can score 30+ goals”. Enter a confident Mat Barzal, who is now shooting the puck. When Barzal shoots, the world stops for a second, and the other team prays it doesn’t go in. Last night, he walked down a defender and just sniped one into the toy department to open the scoring. Barry Trotz kept talking about how Barzal could have a 30 goal season, well if he keeps this play up, he certainly will.

Jordan Eberle is Getting Hot

Jordan Eberle has this ability to either be a top goal scorer for the Islanders’ or just completely forget how to shoot. This year, Jordan Eberle decided it’s time for him to play like playoff Eberle against the Penguins. When Eberle gets hot, it’s very hard to stop that first line. Mat Barzal laps the zone, hands it to Eberle, Eberle shoots it, and Lee taps the rebound in. That’s how this line works. This line is almost dependent on good o-zone play from Eberle. Also, I can’t forget to mention how good he’s played in the neutral zone. Stripping pucks and making hits, Trotz has to love it.

Pulock and Pelech are a Top Defensive Pairing

I don’t care if your a Ranger fan, or an Islander fan, or just a Hockey fan in general, if you do not believe that Pulock and Pelech are a top pairing, you simply don’t watch Hockey. These two defenders play so differently, but they complement each other really well. Pulock is that tough big man with a slapshot from hell and has great board control. Pelech is a smaller guy, but still big, and pokes nearly everything in his way. Jack Hughes has been a roll these past couple of games, these two defenders held him to 0 shots on the net. The two are a top pairing in the league, and it’s time they get their respect.

New York Islanders: It’s time for Oliver Wahlstrom to play

The New York Islanders have only played 3 games this season but have the same problem as last season. They can’t seem to figure out how to put the puck in the back of the net consistently. I know the Isles scored 4 goals against the Rangers in the first game. But, in the last 120 minutes of gameplay, they’ve only scored 1 goal.

The Islanders aren’t going to go make a trade for a top goal scorer. So, this player must come from inside the system. The answer is obviously Oliver Wahlstrom. No other winger has goal-scoring abilities as Wahlstrom has. Where would he fit in the lineup, though? Also, how would this impact the current gameplan?

Replace Ross Johnston

Ross Johnston’s best ability is his physicality, and this is a known fact. But he only has 11 hits in 3 games this season. The fourth line has been doing their thing and together have 27 hits in 3 games.

Even Kieffer Bellows has 10 hits in 3 games. It’s not like the Islanders need more checking. They need more goal scoring. And I also believe the reason why the third line gets a lack of minutes compared to the other lines is the fact that Ross Johnston is on it. I’m not calling him completely useless. But, as a wise man once said, “Johnston can do nothing just as much as he can do something.”

The Positives of the Change

When good players get the puck in space, there’s a scoring chance to be had. And when the puck gets on the net, good things happen. The third line takes the fewest amount of shots on net, with just 5 all year.

The puck needs to get on the net, and with a crafty player like Wahlstrom, it most certainly will. Teams don’t know how to gameplan for Wahlstrom. But, they know how to stop Johnston and make him slip up. All the Isles need is a confidence boost. If the Islanders can get Bellows and Wahlstrom to feel comfortable, the third line can be one of the deadliest in the league.

New York Islanders: Analyzing the win against the Boston Bruins

New York Islanders

The New York Islanders have put themselves back in the win column after squeezing past the Boston Bruins. This is the Islanders’ first home win against the Bruins in 8 years. The Islanders only managed to put the puck behind Tukka Rask once. But, they only needed one goal to win, as Semyon Varlamov played another excellent game. Varlamov has played so well this season that he now holds the Islanders franchise record for most minutes played without a goal allowed.

Statistically, Varlamov is the best goalie in the NHL right now, holding a 1.000 save percentage and a 0.00 GAA. There was some great play from a few players, and also some bad play from a few players. The Islanders will be analyzed as a team through each period, not by individual performances.

First Period

The Islanders just looked absolutely rusty in the first period. Only 2 shots on net all period, and not much offensive zone time at all. There were a bunch of turnovers committed, and the defensemen couldn’t hold the blue line to save their lives. The only player who shined in this first period was, of course, Semyon Varlamov. He stopped all 10 shots that came his way and just overall looked very calm in between the pipes. Also, the penalty kill looked very good again.

Second Period

This felt like the fastest period I’ve ever seen in Hockey. I’m not saying that the time went off the clock very quickly. But, the tempo was increased dramatically. There was no whistle for over 3 minutes at one point. Chances back n’ forth for each team, none of them converting, and the Islanders missed the net on almost all their chances. It was a setup period for what happened in the third.

Third Period

The Islanders finally pieced it all together in this period. It’s hard to beat a team where everyone is giving 100% on every single shift. Players like Anders Lee, Adam Pelech, and even Jordan Eberle gave it everything they had. Cal Clutterbuck hit everything in his vision. Matt Martin surpassed 3,000 career hits, putting him in the top 5 of hits among active players. Varlamov continued to be solid in between the pipes. The forwards jumped up in the neutral zone to force turnovers, and the defensemen pinched up behind them. This all led to the lone goal of the night, a J.G. Pageau tip-in. Sometimes all you need is a lucky bounce to win, I’m sure the Islanders are glad that it went their way.

New York Islanders: Predictions for the 2021 season

 Anthony Beauvillier , New York Islanders

The New York Islanders season finally begins tonight after a 3-month layoff since their last game. I just want to say what a great job the NHL has done handling Coronavirus. Not a single league, other than maybe the UFC, has handled COVID-19 better than the NHL.

Back to the Islanders. This 2021 Islanders team is basically the same team as the 2020 team, but it feels different. With additions of Ilya Sorokin and other 3rd liners. The development of Noah Dobson, Oliver Wahlstrom, and Kieffer Bellows. This team, on paper, looks better than the 2020 team, even without Devon Toews. Hockey is finally back, and with a new season comes new predictions.

Top New York Islanders predictions for the 2021 season:

Mat Barzal Bounces Back

It’s weird when a pro-athlete scores 60 points in 68 games, and it’s a down year. But this just shows how talented Mat Barzal really is. My biggest critique of Barzal at one point was the fact that he never shot the puck. Barzal would always pass it to someone who was covered instead of taking an open shot. Barzal only took 170 shots last year, he needs to take around 220 in a full season. But then the playoffs came, and he finally started shooting the puck. And when a dangerous player gets the puck on the net, good things happen. With a good backcheck and some more effort on defense, it looks like Barzal could become a top center in this league.

Anthony Beauvillier Leads the Team in Goals

This is somewhat of a bold prediction due to the goal scoring talent at the center position. Brock Nelson, JG Pageau, and Mat Barzal are normally the ones who lead the team in scoring. But, there’s something undeniable in the way that Beauvillier plays. He’s a baby flame who’s just getting ready to scorch the whole house. With linemates like Josh Bailey and Brock Nelson, there’s a big possibility that this can happen.

Adam Pelech gets in the Norris Trophy Race.

Adam Pelech has been the Islanders’ best-kept secret for the longest time. Pelech is probably the most underrated defenseman in the entire league. I would go as far as to say that Pelech is the most important player on the team. The Islanders slumped so terribly when Pelech got hurt the Isles went 10-13-7 and let up around 3 goals a game. But, when Pelech’s healthy, they went 25-10-3 and let up only around 2.5 goals a game. If the Norris trophy actually focused on defense, Pelech would’ve won it by now.

Ilya Sorokin Wins the Calder

The rookie of the year goes to the 25-year-old Ilya Sorokin. There’s actually zero doubt in my mind about this. The only thing that may be holding him back is the fact that Varlamov is the starter. Sorokin was the best goalie outside of the NHL. Now that he’s here, I don’t know if anyone can stop him.

New York Islanders: Transactions from January 13th

Andrew Ladd, New York Islanders

The New York Islanders are just a day away from their season opener against the New York Rangers. As training camp closes out, the NHL requires all 31 teams to hand in an official roster. Now, obviously, things are subject to change, not everything is set in stone just yet. There were definitely some shocking moves made within the past 24 hours in the Islanders organization. Which move was the most shocking, and which move didn’t mean anything?

Waiver Wire

As I’ve stated before, Josh Ho-Sang and Mason Jobst were both placed on waivers on Sunday. Both of them actually cleared and will report to Bridgeport. Andrew Ladd was also placed on waivers and went unclaimed. Leo Komarov and Dmytro Timashov were waived, but it’s a paper transaction. What I mean by this is that they are still on the team, but due to cap restraints, they had to be waived. Don’t be worried, Isles fans, Timashov has a contract. Finally, Bode Wilde and Samuel Bolduc were sent to Bridgeport.

Taxi Squad

The taxi squad is a new addition to the NHL due to COVID-19. The Islanders placed Kieffer Bellows, Austin Cznarik, Otto Koivula, and Jakub Skarek on the squad. Again, the Bellows move is a paper transaction, will most definitely be on the third line tomorrow night. Corey Schneider is not under contract yet, so he cannot be on the squad. Look for him to sign within the next 3 days. I also believe that Sebastian Aho will join this squad and maybe Oliver Wahlstrom.

Extra Notes

The Islanders placed Michael Dal Colle on injury reserve. At this time, Lou Lamoriello has not commented on Dal Colle’s situation. Lamoriello has stated that he is perfectly fine with Johnston and Martin on the ice every night. He sees no redundancy. Trotz stated that Wahlstrom and Bellows playing together is a possibility and may happen later this season. Finally, Thomas Hickey will be the 7th defender.

New York Islanders: Notes from Sunday’s practice

New York Islanders

The New York Islanders continued their training camp with another scrimmage yesterday. It was a “for real” scrimmage with the official game jersey’s given out to everyone participating. The teams were blue vs. white as always. The blue team’ forwards consisted of Anthony Beauvillier, Josh Bailey, Brock Nelson, Oliver Wahlstrom, Kieffer Bellows, J.G. Pageau, Ross Johnston, Andrew Ladd, Otto Koivula, and Michael Dal Colle. The defenseman for the blue team: Nick Leddy, Scott Mayfield, Thomas Hickey, Bode Wilde, Sebastian Aho, and Grant Hutton. Semyon Varlamov was in between the pipes. Now, the forwards for the white team were: Mat Barzal, Anders Lee, Jordan Eberle, the fourth line, A.J. Greer, Austin Cznarik, Leo Komarov, and Simon Holmstrom. The defensive lineup consisted of Adam Pelech, Ryan Pulock, Andy Greene, Noah Dobson, Parker Wotherspoon, and Samuel Bolduc. Ilya Sorokin was the starting goalie. This scrimmage got very interesting.

Goals

Jordan Eberle opened up the scoring by putting one past Semyon Varlamov on the opening shift. J.G. Pageau would then respond with the equalizer after scoring in his favorite spot, the crease. This was the first goal that Ilya Sorokin allowed all camp. When it rains, it pours, Grant Hutton put another one past Ilya Sorokin on a rush. Next, Kieffer Bellows believed he scored to open up the third period on Ilya Sorokin. This goal would end up counting. Then, Oliver Wahlstrom would pop out of the penalty box and score on Ilya Sorokin. This would effectively win the game for the blue team. The final score was 4-1.

Notes

Samuel Bolduc had an all-around great day, he even dumped Beauvillier to the ice after spinning away from him. The third line of Pageau, Wahlstrom, and Bellows all scored goals today and played excellent defense. Don’t be surprised if that’s the opening night third line. Although Ilya Sorokin let in 4 goals yesterday, he played very well and stopped many other scoring chances. Do not panic, Islander fans, it’s just a scrimmage. Semyon Varlamov played great yesterday and stopped nearly everything that came his way. Varlamov will get the opening night start, but Sorokin could play on Saturday. Noah Dobson and Ryan Pulock have been playing on the same PP unit, most likely the squad for opening night. Also, Casey Cizikas was involved in a three-way collision with Thomas Hickey and Matt Martin, his status is trending upwards.

Extra Notes

Josh Ho-Sang and Mason Jobst were put on waivers yesterday. I believe this will effectively end Ho-Sang’s time with the Islanders. Though Thomas Hickey has had a good camp, he will most likely be traded. Look for the Islanders to try and pick up someone on waivers today. Barry Trotz has stated that Bode Wilde could become the next John Carlson which is great news. Finally, the Islanders only have two more skates left before January 14th.

New York Islanders: Reaction to Mat Barzal’s new contract

New York Islanders, Mat Barzal

The day all New York Islander fans have been waiting for is here. Franchise center Mat Barzal has finally re-signed. It’s been months of questions, and none of these questions have been answered until today.

Barzal signs a 3-year deal worth $7 million dollars per. It’s a bridge deal, which everyone expected, and it ends in 2023 when the Isles are out of cap trouble. Barzal’s contract breakdown reads as such: $3 million dollars in 2021 plus an extra $1 million dollars for signing. $7 million dollars in 2022, and $10 million dollars in 2023. Barzal has missed 4 days of training camp so far. Will, the lack of preparation hurt Mat Barzal’s performance?

Barzal’s Preparation

Mat Barzal is a professional Hockey player. Do you really think he wouldn’t be prepared to play? Barzal has been skating with former Islanders, Dennis Seidenberg and Johnny Boychuk. Along with current Islander, Tom Kuhnhackl. Barzal was also skating around with different NHL players before training camp began.

When people prepared for something the way Barzal has, they care about that something. Mat Barzal stated in an interview today that he loves Long Island and never thought about going anywhere else. He also stated that the negotiations were very fair for both sides, and he knows he has to work on his consistency.

Barzal’s Performance

My coach, Matt Johnson, also said, “big players make big plays in big-time games.” Well, today wasn’t a big-time game, but Barzal made some big plays. In just two shifts, Barzal managed to score two goals and make Noah Dobson look lost. There’s no denying the talent that Barzal possesses, but there definitely was some concern about performance after missing four training camp days. It’s time to put those rumors to rest; Barzal looks perfectly fine. All he has to do is back check better, and the long term deal with the Isles he wants will be on the table in 2023.

New York Islanders: Tom Kuhnhackl signs a PTO

New York Islanders, Tom Kuhnhackl

The New York Islanders have successfully retained another one of their free agents not named Mat Barzal. Yesterday, it was reported that Tom Kuhnhackl was on the training camp roster. But, just like his teammate Mat Barzal, Kuhnhackl did not take the ice. This was either due to the fact that he didn’t sign a contract yet or his shoulder wasn’t ready to go.

It seems as if it was the second reason as the Islanders announced that Kuhnhackl signed a PTO. What is a PTO? It’s basically a professional tryout, it’s what Mike Hoffman signed last week with the St. Louis Blues. In the case of the Isles, Kuhnhackl signed a PTO because they need to sign Barzal first. Then they will use the rest of their money to sign Kuhnhackl. What does Kuhnhackl bring to the Islanders?

Great Forechecking

Tom Kuhnhackl never played better Hockey than when the Isles played the Panthers in the play-in round. His forechecking was outstanding, the third line was the best line in that series for this reason. They gave the opposition absolutely no time to get settled and set up a play. Kuhnhackl created a couple of goals based on his board play in the offensive zone. Kuhnhackl always gives his all in every single game, and this team needs more of that effort. I believe that Kuhnhackl could definitely take that Left-Wing spot on the third line once again.

Leadership

The Islanders don’t need more veterans who can teach the young guns, but that’s what Kuhnhackl is. Kuhnhackl is a winner, he won 2 Stanley Cups in back to back years with the Pittsburgh Penguins. In fact, Kuhnhackl has never missed the playoffs in his NHL career. Kuhnhackl brings a winning mentality and knows how to get it done in the playoffs.

New York Islanders: Matt Martin Signs New Contract

New York Islanders, Matt Martin

Longtime New York Islanders enforcer Matt Martin has just signed a new deal to stay with the team. The deal is worth $1.5 million dollars over 4 years. A long deal, but this will certainly keep Martin in town for the rest of his career. This deal is beautiful if you truly know what the 4th line brings to this team. There are several implications for the team’s plan going into the future with this contract. So, what does Matt Martin’s new contract mean for the Islanders?

Ross Johnston’s Future

Ross Johnston was signed to a four-year deal worth $1 million dollars a year recently. Martin has also been re-signed for four years, so what does this mean for Ross Johnston? I believe this is basically the end for him on the Islanders. I will forever standby the fact that Martin is a better Hockey player than Johnston. When you need someone to apply pressure and maybe score, you put in Martin. When you need an enforcer who can just beat people up, you put in Johnston.

This is the NHL, not the UFC. Playing good Hockey is way more important than beating up the other team and taking penalties.

Other Players’ Contracts

Thomas Kuhnhackl, Andy Greene, Corey Schnieder, and Mat Barzal all still need new contracts. Corey Schneider will probably sign the 1 year, $700k deal that he was reported to sign in October.

Andy Greene will most likely also sign for an amount around that. I would say a deal around 1 year worth $850k.

Mat Barzal will take almost all of the remaining cap space left with about $800k left for Kuhnhackl. Johnny Boychuk must officially retire first for all this to work, I don’t know what’s the holdup though. And Dmytro Timashov’s new deal is still waiting to be announced. Don’t worry Isles fans, they will resign Barzal soon.

New York Islanders: Training camp roster announced

New York Islanders

New York Islanders‘ training camp officially hit the ice this morning. And just before the team hit the ice, general manager Lou Lamoriello released the official training camp roster. There were 34 skaters and 4 goalies on this roster, and it managed to answer so many questions. Without any further stalling or build-up, who made it to the 2021 Islanders’ training camp?

Forwards

Let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way. Mat Barzal is on the training camp roster, but he did not take the ice today. This means Barzal has taken a physical and can get on the ice the second he signs his next contract. Another surprise was forward, Tom Kuhnhackl. This offseason, it looked as if Kuhnhackl was forgotten, but I guess Lamoriello had another trick up his sleeve. Kuhnhackl also didn’t take the ice today, it’s either he doesn’t have a contract yet, or because of his shoulder. Dmytro Timashov was on the ice, and that means he did receive an official contract, so that’s one less person to sign. Also, Kieffer Bellows and Oliver Wahlstrom made a few good defensive plays today. Finally, Josh Ho-Sang has still not been invited to camp, and his time with the Islanders has gotten even more toxic than my last relationship.

Defense

The Islanders invited 12 defensemen to training camp, and only half of them will be playing on opening night. Honestly, I don’t see a single top 6 spot up for grabs right now. There are 6 defensemen competing to be the next man up if an injury occurs. This is the case unless Andy Greene just totally forgets what Hockey is. I think either Sebastian Aho or Grant Hutton will receive the honor of being called the 7th defenseman.

Goalies

Four goalies received an invite to Islanders’ training camp this year. Take a guess who got invited. Obviously, Semyon Varlamov and Ilya Sorokin would get an invite. And there literally is no one else behind them other than Corey Schneider and Jakub Skarek. No shockers here. This is the full training camp roster. The Isles are in for another successful season if they can develop their young guns properly.