New York Islanders: What the Islanders need to win the Stanley Cup

New York Islanders

The New York Islanders had their run ended just short of the Stanley Cup Finals. The Islanders are in a great spot for the future. The UBS arena is ready in 2021. Ilya Sorokin is an Islander. The Isles made a deep run and proved the whole league wrong. Lou Lamoriello still needs to make a big move to improve the team and make them cup contenders for awhile. There are three things the Isles need to do to accomplish said goal.

Sign a Legit Top 6 Winger

The Islanders cannot get to the Stanley Cup Finals without having someone who can score consistently. The Islanders currently have no one like that, but they can sign one hopefully. With players like Mat Barzal, Ryan Pulock, and Devon Toews, all needing contracts, the Isles are strapped for cap. The Islanders will have to make a trade to get rid of a high salary cap player. No matter what it takes, the Islanders need a top 6 winger. It’s a lot easier to win with a guy who scores 30 goals consistently than a guy who can maybe score 22.

Improve Power-Play Strategy

Tampa Bay shut down every single Islanders’ power-play while being effective on their own. The Islanders were unwilling to dump in the puck, and Tampa took advantage of that. The best forechecking team in Hockey became unwilling to forecheck on the power-play. Not only that, but the Isles need to get rid of the drop pass. Every time they get bumped out of the zone, they take it back 70 feet and drop pass it to Barzal. It’s predictable, and it takes away the stretch pass that takes the defense off guard.

Develop Young Players

The Islanders are a young team with a lot of good young players. Mat Barzal needs to develop further and give more effort to backchecking and on defense. Noah Dobson needs to gain confidence in his play; he’s a good player, just needs confidence. Have to let these young players know that turnovers won’t fly around here. Ilya Sorokin must be developed correctly if the Isles want to make more deep runs. Although he’s a great player already, Anthony Beauvillier still has room to grow. Devon Toews is a solid defender, but. he makes too many mistakes. There’s a bunch of young guys who need to learn how to play Islanders’ Hockey.

New York Islanders: Possible Lineup Changes for Game 6

Mathew Barzal, New York Islanders

The New York Islanders face another due or die game tonight in game 6. Barry Trotz has already alluded to the fact that some players from game five won’t be available for game 6. This is probably a smokescreen, so Tampa doesn’t know who to prepare for. I’m saying that the Isles are fully healthy, but are going to switch up the lines again. So, there are some lineup changes that will need to occur. However, I will keep the 11 forwards, seven defenseman strategy.

1st Line Forwards/Defenseman

Mat Barzal and Anders Lee will obviously be on that first line. There’s no reason for either of them to switch lines. There’s a case for Jordan Eberle to sneak up on that first line as usual, but I’m going to move him down to the second line. I think Cal Clutterbuck should man the right-winger spot on the first line. Cal is a great forechecker, lays the boom, and can snipe the toy department. For the defenseman, it’s going to Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock. PP is by far the best defensive line pairing.

2nd Line Forwards/Defenseman

Anthony Beauvillier, Brock Nelson, Jordan Eberle as the 2nd line forwards. “Why isn’t Josh Bailey on that line?”. Well, J.G. Pageau needs help, and Bailey can feed him in the slot. This line is a boom or bust; it all depends on how Eberle plays. It’s just an experimental line, so don’t get mad in the comments. The 2nd pairing for defense should be Devon Toews and Johnny Boychuk. Boychuk played really well in game 5, so there’s no reason to take him out.

3rd Line Forwards/Defenseman

J.G. Pageau, Josh Bailey, Matt Martin on the 3rd line. This line is a little confusing, but this may be the most productive line. Matty can crash the net and scoop up rebounds. Josh Bailey can forecheck and pass to Pageau in the slot for an easy goal. This is the “thumper” line even without three physical guys manning it. The defenseman will be Mayfield and Leddy. Hopefully, Leddy doesn’t turn the puck over a million times again.

Extra Forwards/Defenseman

To finish out the lineup, we’ll have Leo Komarov and Michael Dal Colle play. Andy Greene will be the extra defenseman. 3 scrappy players who will give it their all to win this game and see another one. What are your thoughts on these hypothetical lineups? Keep it clean in the comments; it’s just an idea.

New York Islanders: 3 Stars of Game 5

New York Islanders, Anders Lee

The New York Islanders are not going home just yet. The Islanders pull off a double-overtime win against the Tampa Bay Lightning to force a game 6. I know I say this often, but this was possibly the most exciting game in 27 years for the Islanders. Being on the brink of elimination and facing a powerhouse team, the odds were all against the Isles. Somehow, someway the Islanders were able to win and stay in the bubble. There were three stars in yesterday’s win against the Lightning. This team needed to deliver, and that’s precisely what they did.

Semyon Varlamov

Semyon Varlamov stood on his head last night and propelled the Isles to a victory. Varlamov stopped 36 shots of the 37 that came his way. Varly’s best save came in the first overtime when Nikita Kucherov shot a wrister from above the left faceoff circle. Scott Mayfield was screening Varlamov unintentionally, and somehow Varly was able to go from left to right quick enough to stop the puck. Varlamov’s night was highlighted with his celebration slide into the pile-up around Jordan Eberle. If Varlamov continues to play like he did last night, the Isles will be hard to put away.

Jordan Eberle

I mean, finally, Jordan Eberle decided to actually play. Last year, Eberle was a top playoff performer as the Isles swept the Penguins in the first round. Eberle makes this list merely because of his game-winning goal. “The goal heard around the Island” is what I like to call it. The Islanders haven’t perfect at all during overtime in the bubble. But, that luck was bound to change. Eberle buried one on Vasy glove side and forces game 6.

Anders Lee

The Islanders’ captain did not want to leave Edmonton, and his play showed that. Anders Lee gave 110% last night, and the team followed. Anders Lee did the little things correctly, like marking his man, being physical down low, and winning the 1v1 battles. He also blocked a shot from the point after giving his stick to defenseman Scott Mayfield. 99 mph shot right to his knee. Eventually, all his hard work would pay off for him and his team as the Islanders got a 2v1. Lee outskated Sergachev and got a beautiful cross-crease pass to Eberle; the rest is history.

Conclusion

The Islanders are one win away from pushing a game 7. If the Isles force a game 7, well, it’s anyone’s series. The Islanders have all the momentum in the world, and the Lightning have a lot of doubt.

New York Islanders: 1 Trade Option for Jordan Eberle

New York islanders, Jordan Eberle

New York Islanders‘ forward Jordan Eberle has disappeared in the playoffs as of late. Well, he does more for the opposing teams than he does for the Isles. Once again, Jordan Eberle will most likely be traded due to his playoff play, or lack thereof. There’s a slight problem, Eberle does have a no-trade clause in his contract. But, this ends next year, and then he only has a 16 team no-trade list clause. Eberle might not have the best trade value due to his contract, but there’s a place for everyone. There is one destination I believe that would trade for Jordan Eberle.

Seattle Kraken

The Islanders roster is going to take a hit with another expansion team joining the fray. But, that doesn’t mean the Isles can’t fleece the situation as they did with Vegas. I believe the Islanders will protect seven forwards, three defensemen, and one goalie. The Islanders must protect Mat Barzal, Anthony Beauvillier, Anders Lee, Brock Nelson, J.G. Pageau. I also believe the Islanders will choose to protect Josh Bailey and Casey Cizikas. On defense, they will protect Ryan Pulock, Adam Pelech, and Devon Toews. And the Isles will protect Ilya Sorokin. This means players like Kieffer Bellows, Scott Mayfield, and Semyon Varlamov will be unprotected. The Islanders could trade Eberle to sway the Kraken into choosing a less valuable player. The trade could be Eberle and a 4th round pick, so the Kraken chooses someone like Grant Hutton.

Replacements

The Islanders can’t make this move without knowing they have someone who can step into the first-line forward spot. I believe Anthony Beauvillier will be on the first line by then with Barzal and Lee. I also believe Kieffer Bellows or Oliver Wahlstrom will play their line onto the second line. So the Islanders need a good third-line forward. Using the cap space freed up by Jordan Eberle, the Islanders can find themselves a legit sniper. Tanner Pearson is the first name that comes to mind. Pearson recorded 21 goals and 24 assists this year. He can be the goal scorer the Islanders have needed all along.

Conclusion

The Islanders roster works itself out with this one move. With the coaching of Barry Trotz and Lane Lambert, the internal players will continue to grow. While the trade opens up more cap space to get a better goal scorer. The Islanders should make this move.

New York Islanders: Lineup Changes for the Future

New York Islanders

The New York Islanders are not going to win the Stanley Cup this year. The Islanders finally ran into a team that can outplay them for a full 60 minutes. A good coach and a good system can only get a team so far. Eventually, the roster must be improved greatly. This is the Islanders’ true problem and the reason why they won’t beat Tampa. Tampa is a more talented team than the Islanders. But, this doesn’t mean the Islanders can’t make a run for the cup next year. Their key pieces aren’t that old, and they have some good prospects. What changes should Lou Lamoriello make for the roster next year?

Forwards

The Islanders need a consistent goal scorer, but they don’t have the cap space to get one. This means the goal scorer must come from the system. It could be someone on the roster like Anthony Beauvillier, J.G. Pageau, or Brock Nelson. Though, I’m thinking like someone a bit younger and from the AHL. Kieffer Bellows is the first name that comes to mind. In his debut, he scored two goals against the Los Angeles Kings. One of these goals was an absolute snipe from 50 feet left of the net. Oliver Wahlstrom could also make his long-awaited NHL stay next year too. So, barring any major free agency signings, here are the forward lines for next year. Also, in this, we keep Matt Martin.

Anders Lee-Mat Barzal-?

Anthony Beauvillier-Brock Nelson-Josh Bailey

Kieffer Bellows-J.G. Pageau-Oliver Wahlstrom/free agent winger

Cal Clutterbuck-Casey Cizikas-Matt Martin

Defense

The defense is good, but it can be better. The Islanders need a better bottom line pairing because Nick Leddy and Andy Greene aren’t cutting it. Too many turnovers in their own end, and they can’t hold the blue line. One solution is Noah Dobson taking a spot. This is a move that all Islanders fans want. Noah Dobson is the future, and it’s his time to show the world what he’s made of. The other spot will most likely be filled by a free agent. Cheap defensive options include Mark Borowiecki, Luke Schenn, and Andrej Sekera.

Adam Pelech-Ryan Pulock

Devon Toews-Scott Mayfield

Andrej Sekera-Noah Dobson

Conclusion

Those are my predictions for the 2020 lineup. Obviously, I have a 10% chance of even getting one move right. Lou Lamoriello doesn’t let anything slip under his nose, and that’s never going to change. What are your thoughts?

New York Islanders: Recapping Game 4 loss

New York Islanders

The New York Islanders have their backs against the wall following the game four loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Game 5 makes or breaks the series; everything the Islanders have in the tank needs to come out. Today’s loss was painful for Isles fans across the globe. The Islanders looked not only a step slower, but they looked like they didn’t want to win. Pucks weren’t getting to the net, and the defense was out of place. It all culminated in a downer of a loss for the Islanders. How did the Islanders lose today, though?

First Period

Tampa Bay absolutely dominated the first period. The Islanders only had six shots on the net, and one of them came after the final whistle blew. It was a lot of chipping and chasing for the Islanders. Something the Isles are ordinarily good at became a weakness in this period. Semyon Varlamov shined in this period as he always does. The highlight of this period came at the end where Cal Clutterbuck socked Yianni Gourde in the face after the period ended.

Second Period

The Islanders stepped up their play a bit in this period. After killing a power-play to start the period, the Islanders finally got shots on the net. Brock Nelson would open up the scoring by roofing one glove side past Vasy. A great goal after some great forechecking. Not even 10 seconds later, Blake Coleman scores and levels it up. Not even 5 seconds later, Ondrej Palat scores to put the Lightning up by one. The Isles could not cover the slot today for some reason, and it cost them.

Third Period

Tampa dominated another period, and it happened to be the most crucial one. Brayden Point would make the game 3-1 after Mat Barzal forgets to backcheck. Varlamov was great today, but it proved not to be enough. Not enough shots got on the net and too many defensive turnovers. Too many plays where a defenseman lost his guy. Half efforted performance from the Isles today.

New York Islanders: 3 Stars of the Game 3 Win

Semyon Varlamov, New York Islanders

The New York Islanders have made the Eastern Conference Finals a real series. Game 3 was easily one of the most entertaining games of the 2020 playoffs. The Islanders played their hearts out, and it shows. A mix of desperation and frustration led them to clutch out the win. There were three stars that led the Islanders to victory last night. Their efforts did not go unrecognized, and honestly, I believe three stars are too little to show how good the Isles played last night. But, without further ado, here are the three stars of the night.

Semyon Varlamov

Amazing is almost an insult to how Semyon Varlamov played last night. Varly single handily kept the Islanders’ hopes alive. There were 3 or 4 sequences from the Lightning last night that should’ve been goals, but Varlamov stood on his head. I don’t know what changed for Varlamov from the regular season to the playoffs, but he’s just been fantastic. Even though he did let in 3 goals, there was a possibility it could’ve been 6. The Isles fans are 110% behind their outstanding goalie.

The 4th line

I have to include the entire 4th line here because, oh my god, what a game they played. J.G. Pageau was acting like a goon out there, and he’s a foot shorter than every other player. Not only did Pageau play like an enforcer, but he got an assist on the beautiful Adam Pelech goal and scored the empty-net goal. Don’t forget about the line clearing brawl at the end of the game. Victor Hedman had to save Kucherov from Pageau. Matt Martin continued his hot streak and played amazing defense. Great forechecking as well, as always, and he clocked Barclay Goodrow in the back of the head six times. Sydney Martin has got to be proud of her husband. Also, can’t forget about Cal Clutterbuck sniping Vasilevskiy to open up the scoring. 4th line looked amazing even without Casey Cizikas playing.

The “B” line

When the “B” line gets hot, it’s normally “goodnight Jim Kite.” Josh Bailey had two assists last night as he continues his quest for the Conn Smythe. Anthony Beauvillier scored last night on a beautiful play from Brock Nelson. Not only that, but Beauvillier assisted Nelson’s game-winning goal with a beautiful turn around pass. Brocktober came early Isles fans. Brock Nelson was in prime form last night and would win the game for the Isles. The second line continues to be dangerous.

Honorable Mention

Also, as an honorable mention, what a game for Adam Pelech. Pelech scored his first career playoff goal, so congratulations to him. It was a total snipe, and it got all the Islanders fans excited. Especially the #pelechposse created by Jake Basile (a.k.a. @BathtubJake on Instagram). Pelech was thumping too, a bunch of big hits for the big man. Great game from a shutdown defenseman.

New York Islanders: 2 Keys to Winning Game 3

New York Islanders, Brock Nelson

The New York Islanders‘ only have one choice tonight, and that is to win. If the Islanders go down 3-0 in the series, it’s “goodnight Jim Kite.” Game 2 was winnable; it all came down to one costly turnover by Andy Greene in the last 10 seconds. The Islanders have little room for mistakes tonight, but they do have some help. Brayden Point is a game-time decision. Also, Alex Killorn is out to his cheap hit against Brock Nelson. However, Vasilevskiy is playing. There are two keys to winning tonight’s game that the Islanders must follow.

Shooting Stick Side

Andrei Vasilevskiy is almost unstoppable. The keyword is unstoppable; there’s a weakness in every good goalie’s play. For Vasy, it’s definitely his short side. I mean, it’s the only spot the Islanders have been able to confidently score on. His five-hole is too strong on breakaways, and his glove is everywhere. There’s only one way to combat this: lift the puck to his short side. Get a low shot rebound from the right-winger and let the left-winger or center clean up the rebound and put it in the toy department. The Islanders cannot shoot it into his chest and hope it trickles in. This is not a 22-year-old goalie, this is one of the best goalies in the NHL for at least the last decade.

Getting Pucks in Deep

The Islanders’ forecheck is one of the best in the league. Those “pesky” Isles, as everyone calls them, are phenomenal at creating turnovers through the forecheck. Not only do the Islanders have power, but they’re very fast through all four lines. The second line is so good at creating turnovers. And the fourth line is the best forechecking line in the league. The Islanders must get the pucks in deep.

Conclusion

There’s not much to it; the Islanders must deliver tonight to keep their season alive. No matter what the outcome is, the Islanders have had a hell of a season, and Isles’ fans must be proud.

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: Lineup Changes for Game 2

New York Islanders

The New York Islanders got whipped last night against the Lightning. You can blame this on lack of rest, or just being out talented. There’s no room for mistakes in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Changes must be made to the lineup. The Islanders need to make several changes and take game 2. Also, I will not be tackling the decision at the goalie spot just because it could be either-or.

Ross Johnston Out

I am not the biggest Ross Johnston fan, and it’s well documented. I mean, JG Pageau does the same thing, and he’s like 5 inches smaller and 60 pounds lighter. Ross Johnston doesn’t have the speed to help out the defense if they get caught on a 3v2. Johnston doesn’t play on the power-play kill. Johnston isn’t making momentum-swinging hits or fights happen. Either Tom Kuhnhackl or Michael Dal Colle should take Johnston’s spot. Kuhnhackl provides a ton of offense and forechecks with the best of them. While Dal Colle is solid in the neutral zone and is relatively fresh. The Islanders haven’t allowed a goal in the Playoffs when Dal Colle plays. One of those two must take Johnston’s spot.

Leo Komarov In

Leo Komarov is a player most teams don’t think they need, but in reality, they need him. Komarov is a grinder and plays on the power-play kill, which the Islanders need help on. The Islanders can’t allow Victor Hedman to score three power-play goals a game. Komarov will lay it all out on the line if it means he can raise that Stanley Cup. Komarov also creates offense and gets his linemates in a good position to score.

Andy Greene gets Fewer Minutes

Andy Greene has been a very inconsistent player for the Isles during the playoffs. One game, he scores from the point, and poke checks everything. Other games, he takes multiple penalties and provides too many opportunities for the other team. I don’t believe that Johnny Boychuk or Noah Dobson should take his spot, but Greene needs to earn his 17 minutes a night. The Isles are deep in the playoffs, there’s no room for error.