Game Preview: Isles v. Rangers

After sweeping the Hurricanes over the weekend the Isles look ahead to tonight where they face off at MSG against Rangers who are trying to avoid losing 3 in a row. 

Though the Isles came out of the weekend victorious, I am sure the staff and players know that there are plenty of problems that still need to be addressed before this team can really make a run.  The highlight of these problems has to be the team’s penalty kill.  After one sub-par performance after another during the preseason, the Isles have started the season 5-9 on the PK.  Isles fans can only hope that Greg Cronin, the assistant coach brought in during the offseason to help out the penalty kill, can help smooth out the rough edges and right the ship. We all know that the Islanders offense is going to score goals, but we cannot rely on the team scoring 4 goals every night to bail out the penalty kill.  A team is only as strong as its weakest link (Cliché' alert)

Speaking of weak links, if you read my most recent blog I mentioned two players who I believed to be soft spots in the lineup over the weekend.  Josh Bailey and Brian Strait need to step up their game.  No longer can Josh Bailey make poor choices and be invisible throughout the game. And no longer can Brian Strait be, in the words of Jack Capuano, a "Passenga", on this Isles team.

Bailey needs to start pushing harder, and in a game where the Rangers are sure come out strong right out of the gate, we need Bailey at his best.  The same goes for Brian Strait, who for most of the game on Saturday seemed to be relying a lot on his rookie counterpart Griffin Reinhart.

With Calvin DeHaan skating again with the team this week, hopefully the Isles can make things work for the time being until DeHaan is 100%

Now for a little segment that cleverly like to call Brandon's 3 Keys to Victory

  1. Stay out of the box
  2. Goalie poise
  3. Secondary scoring

If the Isles hope to win tonight against this Rangers team that is hoping to get a W after their embarrassing home opener loss to the Maple Leafs, these 3 keys are detrimental.

The penalty kill needs to either put up, or just not have a chance to put up. No lazy penalties.

If they Isles do find themselves on the PK, this is really when we would hope to see Halak show his true colors, and stand tall in the crease.  He played a solid game against the Canes on Friday, but the Canes PP got the best of him on 2 occasions and Halak should hope to put that performance behind him.

And finally, John Tavares and Brock Nelson lighting up the lamp is great (How about that Johnny Boychuck?). But, I would really like to see Strome, Kulemin, and Nielsen get on the board and start building some more momentum for their respective lines.

The Isles are surely in for a tough matchup against last years Stanley Cup runner-ups, and a win tonight could really give this team something it needs more of. Confidence.

For any more information, questions, or if you simply just want to talk hockey, you may follow me on twitter @islestopshelf, or email me at

Let's go Islanders!!

Also, follow @TCLIsles on twitter for more of your New York Islanders needs.

Predicted Lineup Tonight

Line 1: Conacher-Tavares-Okposo

Line 2: Grabovski-Nelson-Strome

Line 3: Bailey-Nielsen-Kulemin

Line 4: Martin-Cizikas-Clutterbuck

D1: Hamonic-Hickey

D2: Leddy-Boychuck

D3: Reinhart-Strait

Goalie: Halak---Johnson

(Photo by: MTA Long Island Rail Road)