The last couple of days have gone by and with the New York Islanders continuing their winning ways as they have moved ahead of the New York Rangers in the standings. Their defeat of the New Jersey Devils should have been an easy one to pick, but not because of their winning streak. The Islanders did not have to play against Travis Zajac or Adam Henrique, two forwards who are major contributors to their offense and could have changed the dynamics of the game. The Rangers losing those prompt games also helps the Islanders move up as the Rangers did have game in hand. Now that they are even in that department, it would be unwise that the Islanders will just cruise over the Rangers for the rest of the season. Yes I have gone record by saying they would beat out the Rangers for second place and say hello to the Washington Capitals, now first in the Metro Division, but that doesn’t mean that every game is winnable.
The Islanders are going up against the Jagr-less Florida Panthers tonight at the Barclays Center. Should the Islanders win this? Yes. Should we assume they will? No. The last thing Islanders fans want to see is Florida goalie Roberto Luongo stonewall the Isles and soon fans will be back to the same gripes as before: scoring, coach etc. Looking ahead, the Islanders play teams that will probably not make the playoffs save for maybe Anaheim for the rest of this month. Should fans assume they’ll win close to everyone? No. You never know when one of those teams has a great night and just played better than the Isles. It’s hockey and it happens. We all assumed Nick Leddy would have scored more than three by now and look at what he has. The Rangers otherwise do have the tougher schedule for this month so I would hope the Islanders to be in second place by the end of the month. That doesn’t mean the Rangers will be out for the count and nor should Isles fans assume that. I remember last year when the Islanders were ahead in a game against the Rangers in Nassau Coliseum and the chant “You Can’t beat us!” was being blasted out by the fans because they assumed the Isles were going to win that game. The Rangers came back to win and did more than just silenced the crowd.
I also assumed that Michael Dal Colle would make the World Junior Championship for team Canada this year. He was recently cut from the squad. In my opinion, that’s a troubling thought. Many have assumed that Dal Colle has first line left-wing locked in next to John Tavares in the near future, but it seems that he excelled at his position because the Oshawa Generals were a better overall team. Now he must prove not only to the Islanders but to himself that they made the right choice picking him as high as they did. For now and by now I mean this blog post, it seems that Bridgeport may be the best spot for him to start his first professional season after all. We can only hope him to be ready when called upon.
Many of us assumed the Columbus Blue Jackets would make the playoffs this year when they acquired Brendan Saad from the Chicago Blackhawks. Well, you can officially scratch them off. Will they end up a lottery team? One could assume, but that would be foolish. Columbus will get things right and eventually will move up in the standings, but not high enough to make the playoffs. What does this mean for Isles fans? It means making the playoffs got that much easier as it seems it may only take 90-95 (maybe lower) points instead of 95-98 points like last year. Isles fans shouldn’t assume anything with the Islanders just yet because they have not shown that they can do anything else past the first round. Yes we can expect that they can reach another +100 point season because we have recently seen them do it. Can we assume they will do anything else? No. When we see them actually meet a goal, then we can expect it from them.
Should the Isles be in second place by the end of January? Yes. Could they end up in first place in the division at some point like we saw last year? Yes. Should we assume they will? No. Is it a given? No. Why? Because they haven’t done it yet in this new hockey season. Don’t assume that every team for the rest of the month is easy and don’t assume the Isles will win everyone because otherwise you know what happens when you assume.