Bark At The Moon; Ending This Road Trip Right

Maybe I should start doing "Cappy's Battle Level" more often.  It seems as though the past two games the Islanders have turned on a switch & have played the best hockey of the season so far.  Although the four game winning streak to start the season was nice, the Isles look much more defensively sound now than they ever were at the beginning.  The goaltending has been excellent, the forecheck has been outstanding, and birds are singing at my window.  All is good in Islander country right now, taking 2 games in a row from the best team in the league (even without their three best players) & the Stanley Cup Champs.  Unfortunately, this is the Islanders, so the pitchforks could be sharpened after a poor performance tonight.

The Islanders come into Phoenix hoping to build on their wins.  They've looked extremely impressive in all facets of the game, even going 4-4 on the PK against a strong L.A. team.  They're resilient, they push back, & they're playing with an edge finally.  As for the Coyotes, they're hot, on a three game winning streak, and hoping to spoil the end of the Isles road trip.  It should be a very good test for both teams, as both have proved in the past that they're susceptible to let down games.

Keys for the Islanders:

-Grind, Grind, Grind.  The recipe to the Islanders success on this road trip has been to be physical, grind each shift out, and make their opponents play a 200-ft game.  They're an extremely talented team, and the way to get the most out of them is to make sure they play hard every single shift.

-Stifling Defense.  Building on the first notion of grinding it out, the way the Islanders have won the past two games is being extremely physical & pesky in their own zone.  Too many times we've seen missed assignments, lax defense, & players spinning & flailing all over the place.  A good defense has to always be on the man and not let them get any open looks.

-Keep it simple.  The Islanders almost lost against L.A. because John Tavares tried to get a little too fancy & wound up turning it over and nearly costing them the game if not for a magnificent save by Chad Johnson.  All these dipsy doosy plays look great when they work, but there's no need for them as bad things happen more than good when you try them too much.  Get the puck to the net, clean up any rebounds, & make the opposing team pay in their zone.

-Play the 4th line less & don't break/lose your stick.  I love the guys on the 4th line, whether it be McDonald, Cizikas, Conacher, Martin, or Boulton, but for the love of God Cappy please don't play them in all important situations.  They're the fourth line for a reason, and putting them out immediately after the Islanders score a goal is just a recipe for disaster.  Also, I don't know if it's just me or do the Islanders lose sticks a lot more often than most teams?  It seems as if every PK situation, a defenseman loses their stick or has it broken and then they try their best to defend & wind up giving up a goal because they can't really do anything.

Keys for the Coyotes:

-Bring Dirty OEL up on the rush.  Oliver Ekman-Larsson is a hidden gem playing out in Arizona.  He is an extremely skilled individual & one that will be a mainstay for this Coyotes team for years to come.  In order for the Coyotes to be successful, they should bring him up on rushes to catch the Isles offguard.  The Isles do have a tendency to forget about the trailing D-man on a rush.

-Keep the Isles to the outside.  Mike Smith is a good goaltender, but he struggles greatly when he has people around his crease & lots of bodies in front of him.  In order to be successful, the Yotes have to keep the Islanders to the outside to give Mike Smith a clean look at shots.

-Make the Islanders make mistakes.  Arizona is a top-10 PP team (8th) & the Islanders are currently 29th in the PK.  Although I do think the Islanders are more talented than the Coyotes, special teams may win this game for Arizona.

Islanders Lines:

Kulemin-Tavares-Okposo

Grabovski-Nielsen-Clutterbuck

Lee-Nelson-Strome

Martin-Cizikas-Boulton

de Haan- Hamonic

Leddy-Boychuk

Hickey-Visnovsky

I have heard that Brian Strait may be in for one of the defenseman, but I'm not sure who.  Not really sure why you would change anything up when you're winning, but maybe Cappy sees something I don't.

Halak

Coyotes Lines:

Rieder-Vermette-Doan

Klinkhammer-Hanzal-Erat

Korpikoski-Gagner-Boedker

McMillan-Vitale-Crombeen

Ekman-Larsson-Michalek

Yandle-Murphy

Gormley-Stone

Smith

Prediction:

AIthough the Yotes & Islanders are both hot, something's gotta give.  I think this will be another overtime thriller, with the Islanders winning it 2-1 on a goal by Brock Nelson.  I have a very good feeling the kid is going to have another monster game.

For more info on the Islanders, or any ramblings when they aren't doing well, follow me @SupRos22 or @TCLIsles

-Chris Passarelli