From the New York Islanders:
On a night full of new faces and new line combinations, it was a pair of old running mates that accounted for the New York Islanders’ offense.
Cal Clutterbuck, Casey Cizikas and Nikolay Kulemin mounted a comeback effort for the Islanders, but the effort of the energetic trio was not enough, as the Isles fell to the New York Rangers 5-3 at Madison Square Garden on opening night.
My Take: If you’ve followed Isles Talk or are brand new (Welcome!), you know that I never look solely at just points in the standings. I go for the percentage or “Point Pace.” I never look at the standings until at least 10 games in, more like 15. The first 10 games I look for chemistry in the Isles and I pay attention to the rest of the Eastern Conference. What did I get out of the first game? The Rangers should’ve beaten the Islanders 3-1. They didn’t. The Isles showed resiliency and were able to come back and make a game out of it while the Rangers showed a lack of ability to close out a team in the third period. The Islanders shot themselves multiple times in the foot with useless penalties which the Rangers took full advantage of, but the Islanders lack of discipline will be rectified as the season progresses. Despite the bigger lead, the Rangers team defense did give up 3 goals. I liked the secondary combo’s of Nelson & Bailey; Strome & Lee; and of course the Casey Cizikas line. That line had the most chemistry for the Isles, and they kept the team in the game. John Tavares, Andrew Ladd and Jason Chimera may need some games and practices to develop the necessary chemistry, but I think that will come sooner rather than later. It’s only the first game and their second one will not be any easier as the Islanders take on the Washington Capitals. Watch, scout, come up with positives and then after 10-15 games, those positives may show up in the standings.
Have you seen the injury lists?
Buffalo has now lost Jack Eichel and Evander Kane for an extended period of time. The Boston Bruins are without Patrice Bergeron. The Penguins are minus Sidney Crosby. The Florida Panthers are without Jonathan Huberdeau for an extended amount of time. What does this mean for the Islanders? It may mean that getting into the playoffs may not require 95 points, maybe 92 depending on how these teams respond to the players they lost. It also means that during the long haul of this season, the healthier the Isles can stay in the beginning of the season, the bigger the separation between them and some of these bubble teams.
I’m finally going to get to put in my two cents about the Isles waiving PA Parenteau. Many fans were hoping to see some version of a Vanek-Tavares-Okposo line from a few years ago. Then without any kind of rumor or warning, the Isles decided to wave Parenteau after signing him over the summer. When I heard about the waive I was hoping he was going to get claimed by a Western Conference team, but with the New Jersey Devils took him, it may have been a slick move. I had the Devils as a lottery team with potential but what the Islanders did made the Devils a better team to start the season. This will make things more difficult for teams like Columbus and Philadelphia as they’ll both have to contend with the Devils and I don’t think any of those teams can rack up 97 points with the kind of competition the Metro Division has. So the Isles may have made the Flyers and Blue Jackets lives worse by improving a lower team like the Devils. Will this move come back to haunt the Isles? Time will tell.