Holy Moly Islanders fans! Call it what you will, this team has not been boring. Every week there seems to be another line-up, development, record or injury that keeps a hack like me busy. Doug Weight is constantly tweaking and making adjustments to keep the Islanders firing on all cylinders. To play on a team with Doug Weight at the helm is like a 16 year-old driver with finicky ’68 Firebird. Like that guy, or girl he is constantly tinkering, tweaking and fidgeting to eek out another bit of horsepower.
Get in, Siddown, Shut Up And Hang On Tight
Mat Barzal is a phenom! He racked up his first NHL goal by pushing aside he of the bloated contract, Rick Nash. The footage is here.
— noah (@islesnoah) October 20, 2017
I had the privilege of watching that kid skate in Juniors, in Seattle. He and his buddy Scott Easnor, who is lighting up the AHL, score at will and are scrappy little bastards. But it doesn’t end there. Barzal was a playmaker for the Seattle Thunderbirds. He racked up the WHL Season MVP, the Playoff MVP and hoisted the cup as a WHL Champ before bidding Seattle adieu. He continues his playmaking ways in the NHL.
To wit, his undressing of the Edmonton Oilers on these two plays.
— Pavel Barber (@HeyBarber) November 8, 2017
This kid Mat Barzal really has no respect for any player in the NHL pic.twitter.com/aj2aechvOx
— Jame Duffy (@TwoTurtleDuffs) November 8, 2017
Did I mention that he also dealt 5 assists in a single game. Check this out.
The @Barzal_97 point counter is at a solid five right now.
— NHL (@NHL) November 6, 2017
He is also slippery AF. How does that glass taste there Bud?
When trying to hit Mat Barzal goes wrong pic.twitter.com/CKT8EMuzSE
— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) November 12, 2017
Look for more of that throughout the season. Barzal is just finding his feet at this point. When he hits his stride, he is damn near unstoppable. His chemistry with any line that you put him on is great. That said he and Jordan Eberle are killing it when on the ice together.
The reaction to Barzal is similar to the reaction to another of the Islanders youth corps, Josh Ho-Sang. He electrified the Islanders at the end of last season. A recent “upper-body” injury to Nikolai Kulemin freed up the space for Ho-Sang to return to the NHL. To celebrate, he promptly scored his first goal of the season in the league.
Welcome back @66jhosang!
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) November 12, 2017
What about the ugly stuff? Well it barely gets uglier than the hit put on Nikolai Kulemin. The hit from the Oilers Eric Gryba put Kulemin out for the season and he only received a 2 minute boarding minor.
Judge for yourself. Looks a little more serious to me. I mean I’m all for a good solid hit, but shit like this ends seasons and careers. It’s illegal cheap shit.
This is the hit from Eric Gryba that caused the Kulemin injury. https://t.co/UbYHUsgPVf
— Brendan Burke (@brendanmburke) November 13, 2017
This likely means curtains for Kulemin and the Islanders. Look for a “we mutually agreed to part ways” announcement on July 1. Mark. My. Words. There is no way the chronic under performer with a $4-plus million cap hit is resigned. Period. However, this was no way for the dude that scored the last game winning goal in Nassau history to go out.
So, like the teenage driver with the foot to the floor and the Ramones cranked to 11, the Islanders will be fast on the straights and drifting the corners. So Islanders fans, grab the OH SHIT handles and naugahyde seats until your knuckles are white. This is going to be a fast paced and scary season. Hopefully we arrive at our destination safe and sound.