Last night the Islanders toppled an Eastern Conference juggernaut in the Toronto Maple Leafs by a score of 7-2. After going down 1 in the first period, the Isles completed their 19th comeback of the season, netting 3 goals in the second period and 4 in the third. NYI has now scored 17 goals in the last three games, with at least 4 in each game.
The Islanders have become a much more proficient threat in the offensive zone as of late despite a rough start to the new year, and even without the help of Mat Barzal or Oliver Whalstrom. Additionally, Brock Nelson left the game in the first period after a hit against the boards from Noel Acciari caught his head. We are not currently aware of the extent of his injury, but we can only hope our leading scorer will not be out long, if at all. Martin dropped the gloves with Acciari later in the game.
Luckily, we have guys like Anders lee and Zach Parise stepping up to tickle the twine. Lee scored his 27th of the year on a deflection goal. Parise scored for the third game in a row to reach 19 on the season, and we saw more goals from Clutterbuck, Holmstrom, Fasching, and Dobson. The whole team continues to share the responsibility of getting pucks on net and the results have been very positive. Cal Clutterbuck scored twice and notched an assist for his first ever 3-point game. The Islanders’ depth is proving to be a significant force in dragging them into the playoffs.
Last night’s effort was a perfect example of Islanders hockey when functioning properly: not giving up on pucks, pressure on the forecheck, throwing the body around, pucks on net, and…the best goalie in the league. Parise’s play to set up Fasching’s goal characterized a lot of these elements, as well as the play leading up to Clutter’s first goal. Parise makes two plays against Timothy Liljegren without even touching the puck to set up all the space in the world for Hudson Fasching to walk in. On Clutterbucks first goal, all three forwards (Engvall, Clutter, Cizikas) checked the Leafs players trying to break the puck out, leading to a turnover and point shot from Mayfield, deflected in by Cal. Two solid hockey plays, no dangles necessary.
The Isles have been referenced as a boring team to watch, not only by goofy fans that never played but also by multiple media members, including no one’s favorite analyst (or player), PK Subban. Dropping 7 on the Leafs is about as entertaining as it gets in the NHL, not to mention another stellar paddle save by Ilya Sorokin that will put him in the nominations for save-of-the-year (which he won last year, too). Sometimes our games are boring, yes, but that is the case for every team in the NHL. That’s just how hockey goes sometimes. The Islanders have demonstrated their ability to score against the best teams in the league, having beaten teams like the Hurricanes, Leafs, Rangers, Devils, Golden Knights, Avalanche, and more with 4+ goals this season. We had a terrible January and then went on a solid run without our top forward (not including the addition of Horvat).
The Islanders’ style works in the playoffs, and no team save the Lightning can truly criticize them. One thing people should keep in mind is every team that wins the Cup has been a contender for many years before that: Lightning, Avs, Caps, Pens, and even the Blues had a consistent presence in the 2010s. How long were the Caps and Avs losers before they made it to the threshold? The contender window is (vaguely) open for any team with talented guys willing to play hard when it matters most. Crosby almost single-handedly kept his team afloat this year. I believe the Islanders have done a great job of changing the culture over the last 5 years and creating excitement for young players trying to earn a spot and for fans tuning in every night. It wasn’t that long ago that the idea of attracting a Bo Horvat to the Island seemed impossible.
On that note, we as a fanbase owe a lot to Lou Lamoriello no matter how this year turns out, and a congratulations to him for getting his 1,400th win as a GM in the NHL, the 2nd to ever do so!
Now the Islanders look to close out the season in a wildcard spot with some help from other teams in the league playing our fellow contenders. The Flyers handed a big loss to Florida last night, our biggest threat now for the 1st wildcard spot. Additionally, the Penguins and Sabres have dropped the ball in the last 10 or so games to give us more space, with Ottawa not playing their best either.
It is going to be an exciting close to the season as the standings fluctuate every day. Let’s Go Islanders!
Always great night when you see the Leafs and Oilers get scorched.
LFGK !!! FYI last year was fluke Edmonton won’t beat us again if you even can get in lol.