The Colorado Avalanche are coming off their fifth straight loss, this time to the defending champion Washington Capitals on Thursday. Now they get to face the man who led Washington to the elusive Stanley Cup last year when they visit the New York Islanders on Saturday afternoon.
Barry Trotz stunned some when three days after the Capitals beat the Vegas Golden Knights to win the title he was hired by the Islanders to be their head coach. It looks like New York made a shrewd move. The Islanders (31-16-6) sit atop the Metropolitan Division, two points ahead of Washington and winners of seven of their last 10.
New York is steamrolling to a top playoff seed in the Eastern Conference even though former No. 1 overall pick John Tavares signed with Toronto in the offseason. The Islanders have done just fine despite not having a player with more than 18 goals this season. They do have eight players with 11 or more goals and two netminders who, combined, lead the NHL in goals-against average at 2.34 per game.
The balanced scoring and strong defense have put New York in position for a deep playoff run. The Islanders are also getting healthier. Forward Andrew Ladd and defenseman Thomas Hickey are back practicing and getting closer to returning.
Ladd has been out since Nov. 15 with a lower-body injury and Hickey has missed two months with an upper-body injury. Trotz told Newsday Hickey is closer to returning.
"The biggest thing is I want to get back where I can contribute," Hickey told Newsday on Thursday. "As far as wondering, it's a waste of time trying to make decisions that aren't made yet." >> Read more
Copyright 2019 by the Associated Press