Okay, I think we can all agree that the Isles win over the Flyers was the ugliest win of the season but I’ve said this before: when a team is on a winning trend, the puck will bounce your way. However, there are a few reasons why the Islanders increased their recent point streak to go along with a bit of luck on their side. The first is that the Islanders are now getting scoring from everyone and not just the first line. Despite the recent surge in the standings, Islanders captain John Tavares has been in a small slump. from the NY Post:
Really, [the third and fourth line] have been carrying us the last couple of weeks. I haven’t played very well, and they’ve been playing really well and creating opportunities and scoring some big goals for us. So it’s key to have contributions from everybody at different points during the season.
To further his point and another reason for the streak is Ryan Strome was recently promoted back up to the Islanders after spending three weeks with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. He has 5 points in the last 7 games since his return. That added offense has helped find more chemistry with line-mates Grabovski and Kulemin and in return has seen their point production increase.
Thomas Hickey’s return has been another reason in the Isles recent surge. When Hickey is in the lineup, the Isles just win. Their record is 7-1-1 when he is in the lineup. On the defensive side, he’s found chemistry with Marek Zidlicky and the third pairing of the Islanders does not seem as the weakest link anymore. With better defensive help, the Islanders can win the ugly game. To further the point, here’s Newsday:
“I feel like the last couple games, Zid [Marek Zidlicky] and I have been reading off each other so well,” Hickey said after Tuesday’s morning skate. “When to jump, covering for one another at the points — it’s been real smooth. There’s a good chemistry growing there.”
The goalies have been outstanding. It’s my humble opinion that the best free agent signing of last years free agency has been Thomas Greiss. If you’ve followed Isles Talk or myself before, you’ll remember that I have always emphasized the importance of getting quality backup goaltending as a key to the Islanders success. Greiss has found chemistry with the Isles and having a little goaltending controversy is a good thing. Having said that, Jaroslav Halak appears to be getting back into form and is looking better with each passing game.
Finally, the schedule is another reason. They’ve gotten points against teams that it’s almost expected. They had a tough three game stretch with the Rangers, Blues and the Senators but still managed to get points in the standings and by doing so the Islanders are now on pace for 105 points and are in 4th place in the Eastern Conference. As I wrote here last week, the Islanders are in a prime situation. It’s not about making the playoffs anymore as I feel they’ll do that anyways. With added chemistry found from the secondary offense, the third pairing defense, the backup goaltending and playing teams the Islanders are expecting to get points out of, now would be a great time for John Tavares to rebound and grow the streak that would bypass the Rangers for second and take a shot at first place in the division and say hello to the Caps.