Isles D-Men Are Stepping Up
The Islanders, who are boasting the worst offense in the league with only a dismal 59 goals for (the second worst team is the L.A. Kings with 63), were heavily criticized for one specific thing over the past three months; not scoring enough goals. (Shocking, right?)
After being shutout several times this year, the Isles were becoming a one-trick pony; if the line of Moulson-Tavares-Parenteau wasn't scoring, then there wasn't anything to worry about if you were the opposing team. However, the Isles have been on a recent streak after coming away with points in their past six games played. Part of that is due to the play of Al Montoya and players such as Michael Grabner, Kyle Okposo and Josh Bailey improving their play. But it would be wrong to miss the contributions coming from the blue line.
For a long stretch, Islanders captain Mark Streit was the only Isles defenseman with an even strength goal on the year. The number one defenseman currently has 15 points in 26 games played (2 goals, 13 assists) and was only accompanied by Andrew MacDonald in the goal scoring department by defenseman after he scored his first of the year in the second game of the season. But a lot of that has changed over this past stretch of games.
The most recent goal scorer from the back-end is Travis Hamonic, who scored his first of the year last night against the Chicago Blackhawks. His goal started the route that the Islanders followed to tie the game and force overtime, keeping their point-stretch alive. Steve Staios appeared to have the second goal with a slap shot from the point, but video review would show that Grabner re-directed it in front of the net to beat Ray Emery. Regardless of Grabner's tip, Staios' shot was an injection of offense that hadn't been seen for much of the start of the year.
Dylan Reese, who was called up from the Sound Tigers once MacDonald was injured, scored a goal against the Dallas Stars last week with a blast from the point. Milan Jurcina was another goal scorer for the defense corps, slamming home his first of the year against the Tampa Bay Lightning after finishing a gorgeous play in which almost every Islander on the ice touched the puck.
It's not rocket science to see that the team is suddenly found in the win column when everyone is able to contribute offensively. The motto may be that defense wins hockey games, but you have to score goals to get a lead; and that's the bottom line.
Hopefully six guys at the other end of the bench can keep up their strong play and help the other 12 find the back of the net as they face the Pittsburgh Penguins tomorrow night.