WATCH: New York Jets OL Dan Feeney goes viral for Islanders celebration

The New York Jets took in their blue and orange brothers’ victory on the ice, a trip headlined by Feeney’s celebratory antics.

Between New York and Manitoba, it’s a good time to be a Jet involved in hockey.

Plenty have come up big for the New York Islanders during their ongoing run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. But if Mathew Barzal, Josh Bailey, Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Co. aren’t careful, they might lose the Conn Smythe Trophy to Dan Feeney.

The newly minted New York Jets offensive lineman stole the show during the Islanders’ 4-1 playoff win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday afternoon. Feeney was one of several Jets in attendance at Nassau Veterans’ Memorial Coliseum, joining his new teammates (including quarterback Zach Wilson) for first-round action.

Feeney quickly became a favorite of NBC’s cameras. Shortly after Bailey scored to put the Islanders up 1-0, the mulleted Feeney was shown enthusiastically chugging his beer and crushing the empty can against his head.

Fans and analysts alike delighted in Feeney’s celebration, as many were quick to delcare him their new favorite Jet in the aftermath of his Uniondale revelry.

Those who know Feeney, signer of a one-year, $3.5 million deal this offseason, know that Saturday’s display isn’t anything out of the ordinary.

“He has a lot of mustache energy,” former Los Angeles Chargers teammate and fellow blocker Michael Schofield said in a report from Joshua Fischman on the team website. “He’s a great guy. (He brings) a lot of energy, (and is) just a good guy to be around. He’s a good locker room guy.”

“He’s fun to be around,” quarterback Easton Stick added in the same report. “You can tell he’s passionate about the game, (and) he loves his teammates. It’s a really good energy that Dan brings every day.”

Perhaps inspired by Feeney’s work in the stands, the Islanders’ victory on Saturday knotted their series with the Penguins at two games apiece in the best-of-seven set. Game 5 is Monday in Pittsburgh (7 p.m. ET, MSG/NBCSN).

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

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: How the Islanders can Sign Mike Hoffman

New York Islanders, Mike Hoffman

The New York Islanders are one good winger away from becoming Stanley Cup champions. Mike Hoffman recorded 29 goals and 30 assists this year; the best news is that he’s a free agent this year. The sad news is that the Islanders have minimal cap space and have to resign Mat Barzal, Ryan Pulock, and Devon Toews. The Islanders need to dump off some salary before even re-signing said, key players. General manager Lou Lamoriello always has something up his sleeve, so this signing is possible. What could the Islanders do to sign Mike Hoffman?

Amnesty Buyout

“What’s an amnesty buyout?” says everyone, including me. An amnesty buyout permits NHL teams to cut players without their contracts counting against the salary cap. The catch is that those players have to be paid 2/3’s of their salary over twice the length of time left on their deal. With the salary cap not improving this year due to COVID-19, the Islanders will have to cut some of their players. The first person that comes to mind is Andrew Ladd. A total dud of a signing who never stayed healthy, and never produced enough. That’s $6 million off the books. Buyout Johnny Boychuk too – there’s no reason to keep him with Noah Dobson around. The Islanders have just cleared $11.5 million dollars to sign players. Assuming Barzal, Pulock, and Toews equal 18 million dollars total, the Islanders have $3 million left.

Trades

Andrew Ladd has no trade value; the same goes for Johnny Boychuk. But, you know what every contending team needs right now? A veteran who can play the penalty kill, who can also deliver the hits. Leo Komarov is the player I’m referring to. Komarov might not have immense value, but the Islanders can easily dump him off for a 6th round pick. That’s another $3 million to work with. Thomas Hickey is buried in the AHL right now, so the Islanders might be able to get a 3rd or 4th round pick for him. Another $2.5 million comes off the books giving the Islanders at least $8.5 million to work with.

Releasing Players

Andy Greene, Thomas Greiss, Derick Brassard, Matt Martin, and Thomas Kuhnhackl are notable UFA’s this year. I’m assuming that none of them get re-signed. This isn’t due to their play, Greene has been sensational as of late. Martin, Kuhnhackl, Brassard, and Greiss are all great rotational players too. But, there just isn’t enough room for them on the roster anymore. Noah Dobson, Ilya Sorokin, Kieffer Bellows, Ross Johnston, and Oliver Wahlstrom are all ready to play. This would take approximately $11 million off the books.

Future Lineup

If all of this does happen, here are my 2020-2021 lineups:

Mike Hoffman-Mat Barzal-Anthony Beauvillier

Anders Lee-Brock Nelson-Jordan Eberle

Josh Bailey-JG Pageau-Kieffer Bellows

Ross Johnston-Casey Cizikas-Cal Clutterbuck

Adam Pelech-Ryan Pulock

Devon Toews-Scott Mayfield

Nick Leddy-Noah Dobson

Semyon Varlamov

Ilya Sorokin

New York Islanders: 3 Keys to Win Game 5

Alex Ovechkin

The New York Islanders will play the Washington Capitals on Thursday in game 5 of the series. The Islanders are just coming off of a game 4 to forget. Other than the first 10 minutes of the first period, the Capitals dominated the Islanders. The Islanders weren’t getting shots on net; they were taking bad penalties, and not converting on the power play as per usual. If the Isles want to put the series to bed now, rather than give the Capitals hope, they need to accomplish three important tasks.

Covering Ovechkin

If you take away Ovechkin from this series, the Capitals would only have four goals and would’ve been swept already. There’s something so simple, yet difficult in covering one guy. Especially on the power play, the Isles cannot leave Ovechkin open. All Ovechkin ever does is go to the left faceoff circle and take a one-timer. I don’t care if your name is Carey Price, or Darcy Kuemper, or in this case, Semyon Varlamov, you cannot stop every shot from Ovechkin. Also, if there’s a 2v1 opportunity for the Capitals with Ovechkin, the defensemen must cover Ovie. Everyone would rather see Ovie pass to Tom Wilson and Varlamov make a stop, then Ovie ripping a wrister from 15 feet out.

Converting on the Power Play

The New York Islanders power play is one of the worst I’ve ever seen. How can you possibly go 1/19 on the power play in this series alone?  The Islanders are averaging around five power plays per game, and only converting on .052% of them.

Something must change in either the personnel or just the system of the power play. If Tom Wilson is going to board Scott Mayfield and almost destroy his collarbone, the Isles have to make the Caps pay for it. There’s no reason why this power play shouldn’t work either. There’s talent everywhere, Ryan Pulock can take a booming slapshot from the point. Jordan Eberle can walk in on any defender and go backhand to the toy department. Anders Lee can tap in basically anything, as long as he doesn’t fall. Mat Barzal and Anthony Beauvillier can split the defenders on entries, Pageau and Nelson can win any faceoff. The list goes on and on. There is no excuse for the power play not to score.

Staying Disciplined

The Islanders cannot allow the Capitals to get power-play chances.

New York Islanders: How to Fix the Power Play

New York Islanders, Devon Toews

The New York Islanders are currently 5/30 on the power play during the playoffs. This makes them 7th in power-play playoff rankings. Now, this isn’t a terrible ranking, but only converting on 16.7% of your 5v4 opportunities is not going to win you a cup. The Islanders have to clean up three problems to fix their power play for the playoffs, and hopefully for many years to come.

Zone Entries

The way the Islanders enter the zone on power plays is flat out annoying. It always starts with a drop pass from Devon Toews to Mat Barzal; Barzal then makes two moves and loses possession. The Islanders need to cut out the drop pass first of all. The number of times the penalty killers have intercepted the drop pass is countless. Also, why wouldn’t the Isles just chip and chase? It’s a 5v4, and you have the fastest player in the league. Also, you have Anders Lee, who is a huge body. There’s no reason to not chip and chase. If anything, it’ll lead to more offensive zone time and more penalty killers out of position.

Faceoffs

If you win the faceoff that’s in the offensive zone when you’re up a man, chances are you’ll have a good opportunity to score. The Islanders almost never win the offensive zone faceoff. How are you going to lose a faceoff to Lars Eller? I don’t know why Trotz won’t let JG Pageau take the faceoff; it makes no sense, he’s the best faceoff guy on the team. Also, why is Anders Lee taking faceoffs? I understand you don’t want Barzal to take faceoffs from his non-dominant side, but you have more than one center on the ice during the PP.

Personnel

Here is something I’ve never understood, why does the first PP line have five left-handed players? That means everyone is catching passes on their backhand and not facing towards the net. In what world does having five left-handed players on the ice benefit this team? Trotz needs to put someone like Eberle and Pulock on the first line PP so that shots will actually go on the net. The first line PP doesn’t even get one-timers, they have to switch back to forehand before they even shoot. Something needs to change in the personnel department.

Conclusion

The Islanders could be one of the most dangerous teams in the league if they fixed their power play problems. Can’t make a deep run if you can’t take advantage of mistakes.

New York Islanders: Has Ilya Sorokin Improved Varlamov’s Game?

Semyon Varlamov, New York Islanders

New York Islanders‘ goalie Semyon Varlamov has been nothing short of sensational during the playoffs. Varlamov is currently boasting a 1.71 GAA with a .932 save percentage. Not only that, but Varlamov also has only allowed five even-strength goals in 7 games. The powerplay goals are not his fault normally, but even counting those goals, Varlamov has only allowed 12 goals in 7 games.

The Capitals have astounding goal scorers like Alex Ovechkin, T.J. Oshie, and Jacob Vrana. The Panthers have studs like Alexander Barkov, Mike Hoffman, and Jonathan Huberdeau. Varlamov has been shutting down top goal scorers this entire playoff run. This play has differentiated from the normal Varlamov Islander fans all know. Varlamov had a 2.62 GAA, and a .914 save percentage during this season. There could be a reason why his play has drastically changed, and his name is Ilya Sorokin.

Ilya Sorokin

The Islanders signed Ilya Sorokin on July 13th, 2020. Sorokin is the best goalie outside of the NHL; his stats only back that up. For the last six years, Sorokin has had a GAA under 2.00, and 5/6 years he’s had a save percentage over .930. Most recently, Sorokin boasted a .73 GAA with a .966 save percentage during the KHL playoffs. Even though the KHL playoffs ended after the first round, it’s undeniable how dominant Sorokin was. Sorokin is now bringing his talents to the Island and putting Varlamov in competition.

Competition

Varlamov being the competitor he always has been, will not go down without a fight. “Varly” has fought against good goalies all his life. Braden Holtby, Michael Neuvirth, Philipp Grubauer, and Thomas Greiss. This competition is nothing new for the longtime NHL goalie. Varlamov, as previously stated, has been standing on his head this entire playoff run. If Varlamov continues this play into next season, it will be very hard to replace him as the starter. However, if Sorokin has been creating this pressure in practice, Sorokin could be the starter next year.

Conclusion

Seymon Varlamov is one of the best goalies in the playoffs right now. If everything is clicking in between the pipes and the forwards are scoring gritty goals, the Islanders are a hard team to beat.