Andy Graziano, SNY.TV Twitter
Down to the final 11 games of the 2016-17 regular season, through all the inconsistency of the past couple of weeks, the New York Islanders find themselves very much in the hunt for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot, trailing the Toronto Maple Leafs by one point, having played one more game.
It's been the scoreboard, perhaps, more than the Islanders that have kept them alive, but at this point, there are no apologies for that, just further opportunities for them to right the wrongs that have been regularly occurring in their defensive zone.
- Yesterday, New York lost a one-goal overtime game against one of the best teams in the league, a team fighting for first place overall in the entire league. They out-attempted the Blue Jackets, 56-54, despite being outshot 38-22. Not a horrible performance and a much-needed point, although the three goals they allowed were all a result of the usual defensive breakdowns that have become too frequent at this stage.
- Saw more than a few people talking about Josh Ho-Sang's turnover in overtime that led to Cam Atkinson's winner. The Islanders actually recovered from that and it was Calvin de Haan, so steady all season, who made the mistake trying to go cross-ice in the neutral zone.
- Speaking of Ho-Sang, he is learning on the job, and in a critical juncture. Mistakes are going to happen, so we shouldn't harp too much on this one or that one. He is exciting every time he touches the puck, the crowd joining up in unison. New York has not had a player generate that type of buzz in a good while.
- In the midst of their last extended break, off until Wednesday when they take on the Rangers, I would think interim head coach Doug Weight wants to practice more, saying they only had two in 25 days during the road trip, and one was for approximately 20 minutes.
- Casey Cizikas missed 11 games with a broken hand and looked every bit rusty yesterday, missing a critical assignment on the second Columbus goal, But, make no mistake, he is going to be critical addition as we head towards the conclusion of the regular season.
- Thomas Greiss, in his last 10 starts, has a 3.68 GAA and .888 save percentage. The number of high-quality scoring chances has increased tenfold but the reality is, he has not been as good as he was last season and the Islanders don't trust J-F Berube. Not good…
- Since their 4-1 win in Edmonton on March 7, the Islanders have not won a game in regulation time, going 2-3-1 in that stretch.
- Talk about brutal. The upcoming schedule is no more kind than it's been all season. Rangers, Penguins, Bruins and Predators await the Islanders out of this three-day break with still three back-to-backs remaining to the finish.
- Now in his eighth NHL season, this will be the sixth that captain John Tavares doesn't finish above a point per game. That's more to say about the roster construction than the unbelievable talent of Tavares, clearly.
- Last 19 games for Brock Nelson? Three goals and five assists. Last 15 games for Ryan Strome? Four goals and four assists, including 11 zero-point games. The experiment of Strome on the first power play unit needs to end, and it would not surprise me if general manager Garth Snow reviewed his options with the two players this summer.
- Sportsclubstats is giving the Islanders a 25 percent chance at making the playoffs, with Toronto at 63 percent. Hardly an exact science, however, and taking a look at how Toronto must end the season, with games against Washington, Tampa, Pittsburgh and Columbus, it's not going to be any easier for the young, inexperienced Leafs. Whichever team gets in, and Tampa must obviously be mentioned also, will earn it, for sure.
- I'm kind of torn on the expansion list debate - to make public or not? I certainly see the NHL's point in not causing any undue angst between player and club, but, in that case, do we really believe the club won't notify players who are made available? For the fans, clearly knowing is more of an informative issue and one that will ultimately, just lead to being able to question their GM as to the selections.