The New York Islanders continued to keep the winning attitude alive but it came at a cost. They defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins by a score of 2-1 and continue to climb in the standings. The Isles scored the 2 goals on the powerplay from Anders Lee and John Tavares. Those goals pushed the team into a tie for 10th place I the League. The penalty kill continued its mastery of not allowing the Penguins to score on the man advantage and the kill continues to be in first place with an 86.6%.There was nothing fancy about the game and that special teams was certainly the advantage for this game. The only drawback is the injury to Halak. I know they’re calling it a lower-body injury, but if you were ask anyone who watched or played that position (hand raised here) he appeared to have done something to his groin. The real question is how bad is it? That answer will come in a day or two.
I’m concerned that Greiss is going to be the work horse coming down the stretch of the season. He has not played this many games since he played for Worcester in the AHL back in 2008-09. I’m not concerned about his overall game, but his health. With the amount of games that he has played, there’s more of a likelihood it could happen to him than in earlier years. I’d be more at ease if I knew Halak would only be out for a week or two, but if he’s out any longer than that, than the Islanders must play Berube more often and have both goalies ready for a playoff run until Halak comes back. Playing against Toronto tonight is a perfect scenario for Berube. Again, to his credit, Garth Snow made the right choice this year in picking up and keeping Berube for the entire season. Utilize him now so both Greiss and Halak are ready to go for the playoffs.
As far as the standings go, the Isles have the second best winning percentage in the Eastern Conference and are seventh in the League. Their first round matchup would be against the Rangers and the Isles would have home ice advantage. If the playoffs were to start today, based off the point pace, here’s what the matchups were to look like:
Watch out for the Flyers, who are on the verge of breaking into a playoff spot and are on pace for 92 points. They look like to be in the mix until the last game of the season, so the Pens and Wings have another issue to tackle. Not going to lie folks, but I’d say it won’t take long for the Isles to lock up at least 3rd in the division. If the Pens can’t keep up, then New York fans are definitely looking at an Isles/Rangers battle in the first round. Home ice advantage will eventually be determined at a later time. Right now, the Pens have bigger issues to worry about like the Flyers.