Andy Graziano, SNY.TV Twitter
And on the fifth day, let there be practice. … The New York Islanders returned from their league-mandated bye week a day early by approving a practice in Denver on Thursday, a day before they were defeated by the Avalanche, 2-1, in overtime. Tonight, it's on to Arizona to take on another of the league's bottom dwellers, the Coyotes.
The time immediately after the holidays is always the toughest to get through. Family, some you don't get an opportunity to see much, have gone. Decorations come down, leaving a vast expanse of emptiness, the air gets noticeably colder and yes, it's back to work. No wonder why there is such a thing as "seasonal depression." I get it, I get it.
- The Islanders have picked up nine of 12 points over six games, but last night must be disappointing. I expected the team to come out slow due to the layoff, but the fact remains Colorado had lost eight straight at home and were 4-13-1 at Pepsi Center.
- I'm not a doctor and didn't stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, but I'm not buying the higher altitude argument, given the aforementioned lack of performance on home ice for Colorado. Other teams don't seem too bothered by it.
- Good to see Ryan Strome starting to finally come around, with four points in his last five games. He had seven shots (six on goal) last night.
- Johnny Boychuk had a whopping 12 shots last night (five on goal) and scored on a 5-on-3 advantage for New York's only goal. He will never admit it, but I think we can all safely assume his shoulder was an issue the entire second half of 2016 and in the playoffs.
- Where, oh where, is John Tavares? In 23:51, had seven shots (five on goal) and was an abysmal 4-for-17 on faceoffs. The captain is on pace for 60 points, which would be his lowest total since his rookie season, even though Josh Bailey is on a career-high points pace and Anders Lee has an outside shot at his first 30-goal season.
- It was assumed by some, including me, that Casey Cizikas would be groomed into the "Frans Nielsen" role after the latter shuffled off to Detroit. Sources tell me the Islanders, internally, are viewing Anthony Beauvillier, in time, as having that type of two-way impact.
- Andrew Ladd had a four-game point streak snapped last night but has been playing much better over his last, let's say, 10 games or so. Good to see the Islanders expensive offseason acquisition finally settling in. He also has a new look for 2017, completely clean-shaven.
- Jaroslav Halak was a shootout loser in his first start for the Sound Tigers, but made 30 saves in the process on 32 shots. I still feel the Islanders are looking for him to find his game only to move him rather than recall him, granted Thomas Greiss and J-F Berube stay healthy.
- Speaking of Greiss, an upcoming unrestricted free agent on July 1, this is a great chance for him to audition for his next contract. Even though some already feel he's passed the test, this could cement a two or three year deal approaching $3-4 million, especially if Snow can move Halak and his $4.5 remaining for next year off the books.
- With Toronto's win over New Jersey last night, the Leafs have jumped the Bruins for third place in the Atlantic division, pushing Boston, at least temporarily, into the wild card conversation. New York trails the black and gold by seven points with four games in hand.
- Mathew Barzal had a great tournament for team Canada at the just completed World Juniors, where the United States were crowned champions in a classic gold medal game. He'll head back to Seattle of the WHL, where he has collected 2-17-19 in 13 games.
- Kieffer Bellows heads back to Boston University with a gold medal and played a tremendously huge role in the final, scoring his only two goals of the tournament. It's been a struggle for the first-round pick in his first NCAA season, as he only has 4-2-6 in 15 games. Still, he oozes of power forward potential.