Cappy's Battle Level Week 2

The Islanders have had quite the week and a half.  Minus the loss against Tampa to end the 5 game winning streak, I haven't seen a better stretch of hockey in quite a long time.  There are all types of character building wins in their; grind-it-out ones against elite opponents (Anaheim, LA), defensive clinics (Arizona), near perfect hockey (Colorado), and some heart-stopping, cardiac kid Islanders hockey just to make sure fans still have a pulse (Florida).  Overall I'm very impressed with the way this team has responded after their mini-losing streak to start their long road trip.

That being said, although everyone has done a fantastic job execution wise, we can't just go handing out Cappy's to all players & coaches.  There are a few individuals who deserve special accolades for showing extra "battle level" and making sure the winning streak wasn't just a fluke.

Week 2 Winners:

Josh Bailey- The story of Josh Bailey is one of trials & many tribulations.  As a first round pick, so much was expected of him coming into the league.  Although he hasn't produced anywhere near where his original projections were as an NHL player, he has finally come into his own and has never looked more comfortable on the ice.  After starting out the season extremely hot & playing with poise, Bailey broke his hand after a slash to his wrists up in Boston.  

He has missed the past couple of weeks, but came up big against the Panthers, his first game back.  After Nikolay Kulemin spent an entire penalty kill on the ice, Jack Capuano decided to throw Bailey on the first line with JT & Kyle Okposo.  Bailey then forechecked his way into possession of the puck in the Florida zone, was in a frutuitous position to have it bounce to Kyle Okposo, who then fed JT for a one-timer.  Bailey's been very strong on the puck this entire year, embracing a new role as a checking & defensive player with a scoring touch rather than trying to do too much, something he's been prone to do over his couple of years on the Island.

Jack Capuano- Speaking of Jack Capuano, remember when everyone in the entire Islander twitter/facebook universe was calling for Cappy's head?  Maybe we all need to learn to have a little patience & let these small losing streaks ride out.  This seems like a different team, and a lot of credit HAS to be given to Capuano & his system.  When everyone is just playing their game and not trying to be too fancy, this team can be very dangerous in all facets of hockey.  I've always been a Cappy apologist, because even when things were bad you could tell the players believed in him & never stopped playing hard for him.  Now that things are good, he deserves credit for keeping the boys calm & having them play their best hockey yet.  Hell, he's even cut down the 4th line's minutes!

Jaroslav Halak & his head-The final Cappy goes to a man who had been much maligned at the beginning of the season but is now becoming a fan favorite.  Jaroslav Halak has played brilliantly the past week & a half, and I really think it's because he's finally getting used to his defense & the angles of the Coliseum.  When you're a goalie in a new place, there are small nuances that people don't think about that could change an easy save into a terrible goal.  Halak has stood on his head almsot every game, stealing a shootout win from Florida, & going up against some of the best scorers in the league out west.  Most impressively, his head save against Florida, where he had a puck roll up his arm onto the back of his neck, was one of the strangest & most remarkable things I've ever seen.  How he had the presence of mind to pin that up against the crossbar is unbelievable, and I don't think I'll ever see a play like that again.

 

Welp that's it folks, until next week!

 

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