Andy Graziano, SNY.TV Twitter
Starting today and continuing every Friday throughout the season, Islanders Point Blank will take a look at the week that was. The good, the bad and yes, even the ugly. We will also check where the Islanders stand in comparison to the rest of the NHL and where they might be going, analyze roster moves that were made and analyze and break down what it all means.
Friday, October 21 through Thursday, October 27
Record: 2-2-0, 13 GF, 12 GA, 2/12 PP, 10/13 PK
10/21 - Islanders 3, Coyotes 2: A game the Islanders stormed out of the gate only to quickly let their opponent back in it. They took an early two-goal lead and looked solid in doing so on a snipe from Dennis Seidenberg and a stuff home by Ryan Strome, playing for the first time against his younger brother, Arizona 2015 first round draft pick (3rd overall) Dylan. Two goals in 13 seconds, coming less than a minute after New York had taken that apparent commanding lead, erased the inspired start faster than you can snap your fingers. New York would dominate the second, outshooting the Coyotes 16-4 but it would take a Johnny Boychuk knuckle puck, while shorthanded, to win it for the Islanders at 4:24 of period three.
10/22 - Islanders 6, Wild 3: New York won their second straight game for the first time this season by dominating the Wild, who were coming off a game the night prior, an overtime loss in Newark to the Devils. Once again, the defense was heavily involved, as Boychuk and Calvin de Haan scored less than three minutes apart after John Tavares offset a Zach Parise marker. In the third, Alan Quine and Thomas Hickey joined the party before the automatic ex-Islander goal allowed, this one to Nino Niederreriter. Tavares ended any Minnesota miracle with an empty netter for a three point night.
10/26 - Canadiens 3, Islanders 2: A game the Islanders never seemed to be really 'in' came down to the penalty kill failing for one of the few times all season in the dying moments of the third period. Two huge defensive mistakes by rookie Mathew Barzal, playing in only his second NHL game, gift wrapped two goals for (still) unbeaten Montreal, by Paul Byron and Phillip Danault. But it was an extremely loose call on Nick Leddy at 16:10 of the third that decided this one. Shea Weber took advantage of an over-zealous penalty killing unit and blasted a shot that exited the net just as fast as it entered. Ex-Islanders goaltender Al Montoya played well and picked up the win, because of course he did.
10/27 - Penguins 4, Islanders 2: Back-to-back against the Canadiens and defending Stanley Cup champions? Easy, breezy. A game New York played very well in, until the last ten minutes that is. Shane Prince made his return off the injured reserve list and was New York's best offensive force, buzzing Marc-Andre Fleury all night, notching a goal and an assist. Jaroslav Halak had his first bad game of the season, allowing two soft third period goals prior to a ridiculously bad Andrew Ladd boarding penalty that kept the Islanders winless on the road in three tries.
Record: 3-5-0, 6 pts (37.5 perecent), 6th in Metro division, 13th Eastern conference, 22 GF, 24 GA, 3/23 PP (23rd), 20/23 PK (8th).
Leading Scorers: Brock Nelson (2-5-7), John Tavares (4-2-6), Ryan Strome (2-3-5)
Goaltending: Jaroslav Halak (3.04, .901 percent), Thomas Greiss (2.71, .907 percent) Advanced Stats: 5v5 Corsi leaders: Anthony Beauvillier (52 percent), John Tavares (50.6 percent), Nikolay Kuelmin (50.4 percent)
Anthony Beauvillier: The 19-year-old continues to show maturity and awareness on the ice that belies his age. Can't see any reason the Islanders would send him back to junior at this point after everything they have seen.
Johnny Boychuk: Clearly enjoying some renewed energy in his 32-year old body, the defenseman looks to be back to his form of two seasons ago, throwing pucks at the net from everywhere and playing responsible, physical defensive hockey. His mentorship of Mathew Barzal after the loss to Montreal an indication of true leadership in the locker room.
Josh Bailey: Bailey has always seemed comfortable playing with Tavares and with five points in eight games, his start to 2016-17 does nothing to dispel that. He has also been one of the most responsible defensive forwards in the early going. Their styles seem to strangely complement each other in a way most fans thought was never possible.
Offensive woes continue: Outside of the six-goal outburst against the Wild, New York has scored only 16 goals in their other seven games, for an average of 2.29. Granted, there are better offensive teams struggling too -- the Washington Capitals have scored 14 goals in six games -- but New York has to start burying some of the quality chances they've been producing.
Andrew Ladd: With a single helper in eight games and only 17 shots, Ladd has struggled early with his new club. The dam will soon break for the man who has averaged 27 goals over his last six seasons, but long-term chemistry with captain John Tavares is still a question mark. An NHL source very close to the Winnipeg Jets told SNY not to worry long-term about the winger, that he is prone to slow starts.
Powerless play: Hopefully, power play goals in two straight will spur this unit forward, but early on, it's been dreadful and goes hand in hand with, for the second season in a row, a messy transition game. There really seems to be no semblance of a competent breakout for the Islanders that leads to speed through the neutral zone, causing defenders to back in.
Ryan Pulock: Sent to Bridgeport after an okay training camp to allow the coaching staff to get a look at Beauvillier and Barzal, he went without huffing and puffing and got back to work while awaiting his chance to crack the lineup. Finally recalled and inserted immediately, he lasted a little over three minutes before breaking his foot and being ruled out four to six weeks.
Question of the week
With Shane Prince now healthy and Mathew Barzal likely going back to Seattle of the WHL, what happens when Nikolay Kulemin is ready to return from his lower body injury? Who comes out?