Last nights game against the Minnesota Wild personified what this season has been like between the Islanders and goalie Jaroslav Halak. There were a few things to not like, but I’ll try to condense a short version because I’m sure it’s been drilled by other media outlets. First off, the Islanders are now 6-12-1 against teams in the top ten in the NHL. They have not yet recovered from losing all 4 games this season to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Had the Isles won this game against the Wild, it paints a better picture. On a bright note, the offense is now on pace for 235 goals which beats out last years team. Make no mistake, last nights game was sloppy but winnable. Here are a few tweets that I retweeted to emphasize parts of the game:
Andrew Ladd has four points in his last three games, someone has finally adjusted #Isles
— Rob Taub (@RTaub_) December 30, 2016
Indeed Ladd has improved, but here is a question for you: With Ladd, Quine and Chimera finding chemistry and Casey Cizikas about to return, who sits out? Shane Prince or Ryan Strome. If Strome gets moved to wing, will he still be able to continue to produce like he has in recent games? Speaking of Strome…..
Gotta shoot that Strome. #isles
— Michael Schuerlein (@islesblogger) December 30, 2016
If you did not watch the game, Strome had a 2-on-1 with Chimera and Strome, who should have shot the puck, elected to pass to Chimera and Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk read the play perfectly and made the save. That play culminates Ryan Strome from progressing to the next level. He needs to shoot more and get the puck on net. If he ever gets that message, he could still be something special. Shane Prince would’ve shot the puck.
And then comes the complete meltdown of Halak. First, he gave up a soft goal that should have been stopped, no question. Then the Wild go on to score 3 goals in 80 seconds. One of those three, Halak did not hug the post, like most goalies do, and it bounced off him and just like that, the Wild had a 4-2 lead. Then Halak gets pulled and in comes Berube.
#Isles ok Berube, show us what you can do. No pressure lol!
— Paul Kreischer (@Netminder39) December 30, 2016
Brock Nelson scores two quick ones to tie the game and then eventually fall to the wild 6-4 on a poor drop of the puck by the linesman and the game winning deflection that Berube never saw. However, I’m sticking with the Halak theme for this article. On the post game, Islanders head coach, Jack Capuano, basically threw Halak under the bus and just four hours ago, the Islanders responded with this tweet:
#Isles Transaction: Jaroslav Halak has been placed on waivers.
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) December 30, 2016
If the Islanders could have traded Halak at the beginning of the season, they would have. His stock was never going to get any higher after the World Cup, but the reality was there just wasn’t a team willing to take on his contract, nor was there any room. The Islanders look like they play better with Greiss in net and to be honest, they didn’t look bad around Berube either. Remember the reason to bring in guys like Ladd and Chimera: To change the locker room for the better. Halak was a deterrent to that mission. Once his agent blasted the Islanders for having a three goalie system, that relationship was going down the tubes. The question is this: What’s next? Will a team pluck him off waivers? If no, will the Islanders send him down to Bridgeport? If they do, you can bet he won’t report and the Islanders will suspend him indefinitely. Or they may just keep him in the press box until they feel he’s ready to play once more. For now, you should hope to see more of Thomas Greiss and J.F Berube for the immediate future.