Today is Canada Day, which marks the opening day of free agency in the National Hockey League – a day that captures the attention of every hockey fan that hopes their team will improve their roster the easiest way possible.
However, this year comes with a twist for Islanders country. In previous years, fans were desperately hoping that Garth Snow would be signing a slew of top players. This year, the Islanders have a team comprised of both veterans and young players that is on the rise looking to fill a few holes. With that being said, they are some important holes that must be filled with the right players.
The top line will still continue to boast John Tavares and Kyle Okposo, the latter being the recent subject of trade rumors. Since Okposo was not moved at the draft, it looks as if he will be staying in an orange and blue sweater for at least one more season.
The New York Islanders finished last place in their division six out of the last eight seasons. However, the Isles finished this season with 101 points, third place in the Metropolitan Division, a Hart trophy finalist named John Tavares, and a physically brutal first round playoff exit that lasted seven games against the Washington Capitals.
Despite this drastic change, GM Garth Snow is not a finalist for this year’s General Manager of the Year award.
Newsday recently reported that Islanders GM Garth Snow is committed to bringing back his coaching staff. A drastically improved season has led Snow to believe that it is appropriate to keep head coach Jack Capuano, as well as assistant coaches Doug Weight, Bob Corkum and Greg Cronin, and goalie coach Mike Dunham, behind the Islanders bench next year.
Many fans disagree with this notion. The Islanders did have a tremendous season, improving from a team that consistently fell in the standings for a pick in the draft lottery to a team tied for fourth place in the East with 101 points.
Goals win hockey games; there is no question about it. But in order for the Islanders to defeat the Washington Capitals in their opening round of the playoffs, goaltender Jaroslav Halak will have to be playing at the All-Star level he was at back in February.
Halak has gone 38-17-4 on the year with a 2.43 GAA and .914 save percentage. These are all respectable numbers, especially the 38 wins, which are the most by any Islanders goaltender in team history.
But the team only went 6-8-5 over their last 20 games of the regular season. This is not to say that Halak is at fault, but many feel that he was not playing at the elite level that he was at prior to the All-Star break.
Moving isn’t easy. There are a lot of things that need to be packed away when transitioning from one home to another. There are many, many things actually, especially if it’s a home that you spent several years in.
You have your clothing, furniture, pictures and little personal belongings, but there are several memories that cannot be packed away into a box and reopened somewhere new. You may have a few pictures of these memories, and although pictures can help ease the bittersweet hardship of leaving a place you called home, you are still leaving a part of you behind.
I can’t say that I’ve called Nassau Coliseum my home for 43 years. As a 27-year old blogger, I can only say that I truly appreciated that building for 13 years.
The New York Islanders defeated the Buffalo Sabres 3-0 on Saturday night for their second to last home game of the regular season at Nassau Coliseum. In honor of the fact that the Islanders will soon be leaving Nassau County for the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, the franchise dedicated this evening’s game to a few select players that have played major roles for this team over the past four decades.
Such players included Ed Westfall, Gary Howatt, Bobby Nystrom, Butch Goring, Ken Morrow, Pierre Turgeon, Steve Webb, Eric Cairns and Shawn Bates.
Each player was honored with a video tribute highlighting their contributions to the franchise during their respective decades.
Blowing a two goal lead in the third period of a hockey game is never acceptable by the standards of most coaches and players, but to let it happen when you are looking to solidify a playoff spot is downright atrocious.
And that’s what the New York Islanders did last night.
With all due respect to the Columbus Blue Jackets, a team that has now won eight games in a row, they are not a contending playoff team. They currently sit fifth in the Metropolitan Division, 15 points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins (and the Pens sit in one of the Eastern Conference wild card spots, only one point away from knocking the Islanders out of the top three in the Metropolitan Division).
This was a game that they needed to win and should have won – and they were well on their way until they blew it; a common theme for the Islanders over the past several weeks.
With less than three weeks left in the regular season, the Islanders have positioned themselves nicely for a top-three finish in the Metropolitan Division. Their 92 points (44-25-4) is currently good for second, two point ahead of Pittsburgh and four points clear of Washington and a wild card spot. Yes, it will be disappointing not to win the division after being atop it for so long, but the goal right now should be a top three-finish, and just as important, home-ice in the first round of the playoffs.
If someone went up to an Islander fan in September and asked them if they would be happy if by St. Patrick's Day, the team would be sitting at second plance in the Metropolitan Division with 90 points and comfortably in a playoff position, what percentage would have said "yes?" 90 percent? 95? Heck, would it even get as high as 99.9999 percent (yes, there's always one)? If wins lead to success and success leads to happiness, then surely we should be grinning ear to ear, unable to hide our joy of the 2014/15 season, right?