Andy Graziano, SNY.TV Twitter
No, I'm not going to hit you with the lyrics from the song made famous from 'Annie' but I just thought the title was apropos with the New York Islanders finally finishing their franchise record nine-game road trip with a game in St. Louis tonight.
Tomorrow, the team will return home for the first time since February 28 with a record no worse than 5-3-1 on the bender, a very strong mark considering mostly all figured the team needed at least 10-12 points on the trip to keep pace with the final Eastern conference playoff spot. Right now, they have captured 11 with a shot at 13.
- Thomas Greiss has now equaled his career high in games played, appearing in his 41st off the season with the Islanders 4-3 overtime win over the Vancouver Canucks. While his numbers are down from last season (2.54, .918 vs 2.36, .925), he has not gotten much help in recent games against Dallas and Calgary. You can't stop what you can't see.
- Travis Hamonic has been back in the lineup now for four games and looks noticeably better away from Nick Leddy. The pair didn't work earlier in the season and there really is no reason for Doug Weight to trust it will work now.
- With Shane Prince's ankle injury, Stephen Gionta is the only spare forward on the roster as of today. Gionta has been serviceable in a fourth-line role, averaging a little under 11 minutes a game. Outside of a possible Bracken Kearns recall, I see Michael Dal Colle finishing this year in Bridgeport.
- Five games into the career of Joshua Le-Ho-Sang and the forward looks more than competent at the NHL level. Sure, he's a -5 but that is a tricky, mostly misleading statistic anyway. Confidence is off the charts, and that is a key indicator for young players at this level. He's not afraid to carry the mail in tight areas and Weight seems to have given him a nice leash.
- With Arthur Staple's report that Casey Cizikas could be back earlier than expected from a broken hand, possibly this week when the team plays four more games in seven nights, another boost could be coming to the forecheck. While not replacing the offensive statistics of Frans Nielsen, Cizikas has more than admirably filled in on the defensive side of the puck.
- How bad were the officials in Vancouver the other night? I hate moaning about it because I recognize it's an extremely difficult job and throughout the course of a season, it mostly evens out, but wow…. Two obvious boarding calls against Le-Ho-Sang, an egregious hold on Adam Pelech and a dangerous slew foot on Ryan Strome. I don't ask for much from the officials, just to…..be better.
- I love Eric Hornick's skinny column. In addition to providing input into the media game notes for which we all rely on, it's the single most comprehensive package of statistics around. I'd challenge anyone around the league to show me someone who does it better. Yesterday, he noted the Isles have gone 36 games without losing consecutive games in regulation time, longest such streak in 35 years. Then, he counters with the fact that they have allowed the final goal of regulation time in 12 of their 16 games that have gone to overtime, including four in the final minute. Fantastic stuff.
- Josh Bailey continues to be the Islanders most consistent forward. Already with a career high in points, he is one off hitting the 50 mark for the first time in his career. His play the other night, stopping a rush with his skate while playing defense then springing Anthony Beauviller for a breakaway goal was sublime. Not to mention his pass to John Tavares on the team's first goal. You don't have to completely come around, I get it, but It's time to stop hating and just acknowledge the work.
- I've been thinking about the expansion draft a lot more recently as we get closer to the June 17 deadline for submitting protected lists. No word on if the league will make those lists public or not, but it is being discussed. The way I see it, barring any trades, the Islanders will only lose a forward if they choose to protect Ryan Pulock, thereby exposing one of Cizikas, Bailey, Brock Nelson or Ryan Strome. If they take the risk of exposing Pulock, it's one of him, Calvin de Haan or Thomas Hickey, in my opinion.
- What exactly is it with Islanders home games and snow? It's not the Coliseum, so commuting should be easier, but Monday night through Wednesday morning, according to the latest data, is looking ugly for a major impact event. Keep an eye out on forecasts if you do end up driving to Brooklyn.