Isles Set to Kick Off Road Trip Starting in Denver

Hopefully the Islanders didn't wake up with to bad of a hangover after that very disappointing loss to the Winnipeg Jets. I imagine their morning being something like this.

The Islanders are set to kick off the first game of their 5 game road trip tonight in Denver, against the Colorado Avalanche. Colorado is currently riding a four game point streak, and will look to extend it tonight. The Isles however, come in to tonight's game having lost a disappointing game to a beatable Winnipeg Jets team.

Despite the many missed called by the refs, once again the Isles PK and goaltending was the main reason for the loss Tuesday night. After Nikolay Kulemin took a 5 min major/game misconduct penalty for boarding to start the 2nd period, the momentum completely shifted in Winnipeg's favor.  The Jets were able to capitalize twice on there 5 minute man advantage, and pretty much drove away with the game after that.

Nobody should have been overly impressed with the goaltending Tuesday night, as Halak again allowed 3+ goals. Not only did he allow 3+ goals, but he allowed 3 very soft goals. If Halak was trying to do his best Nabokov/Poulin impression from last year, he did a great job. Despite the poor performance from Halak, he did make some key saves, and kept the Isles in the game in the third period when the Jets came out of the locker room firing.

At this point in the season the Isles PK is basically 50-50. They are 67.7% on the PK for the season, and with a stat like that, the only way you are going to come away with a win is if you either a) score 4+ goals a game or b) Don't take any penalties.  Since neither or the two of those can be expected to happen on a nightly basis, the only possible thing that can be done is to reboot the PK.  Let's face it, you're going to be a bottom feeder in the league if you PK is last.

The Isles face another very beatable team tonight in Colorado (2-4-4), who will certainly give them a run for their money. The Isles bread and butter this season has been their PP, and tonight it will be tested against the 4th best PK in the league.  That means that they cannot continue to rely on their PP to do all of the scoring. The Isles need to come out strong and start off with some heavy forechecking on even-strength.

Since his game misconduct penalty Tuesday night, Nikolay Kulemin did not face any discipline from the league, so he should be in the lineup tonight, and once again I would like to stress my vote for placing him on the first line with KO and JT.  Cory Conacher has put up goose egg after goose egg on the first line and I think it's time we gave our superstars someone else to help contribute to their success.

My (Very hopeful) Projected Lines for Tonight

Line 1: Kulemin-Tavares-Okposo

Line 2: Lee-Nelson-Strome

Line 3: Grabovski-Nielsen-Conacher

Line 4: Martin-Cizikas-Clutterbuck

D1: Leddy-Boychuck

D2: Hickey-Visnovsky

D3: de Haan-Strait

Goalie: Halak---Johnson

I also think the Isles coaching staff needs to stick with Halak in net tonight. He needs to gain some confidence back, and what better way to do that they throwing him out there against a tough Avs team. We need to show our #1 that we have faith in him.

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 brandonhormann@yahoo.com.

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