The Metropolitan division is a mess, yet the New York Islanders have failed to capitalize on it.
New York Islanders (19-12-5, 43 pts)
Toronto Maple Leafs (13-14-7, 33 pts)
Today on TVA, TSN4, MS+2
Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Ontario
By Justin Weiss
The Nashville Predators’ 5-3 beating of the New York Rangers on Monday night was just the latest example of a Metropolitan division team struggling in the past few weeks.
The division — which features, in order of win percentage, the Capitals, Rangers, Islanders, Devils, Penguins, Flyers, Hurricanes and Blue Jackets — is 37-33-10 in each team’s last 10 games, while the Rangers, Devils and Penguins are a combined 10-16-4 in the same span.
The New York Islanders have an opportunity to move up in the Metropolitan division standings, but after going an impressive ten games without losing in regulation, New York has struggled immensely to gain any ground.
Part of the problem has been a lack of consistency from period-to-period and from game-to-game. The Isles will come out looking inspired at times, but have a tendency to not be able to maintain that energy without a big hit or Matt Martin fight.
Another complication the team has had to deal with is a no-show from John Tavares, Anders Lee, Nikolai Kulemin and Mikhail Grabovski in recent weeks. Tavares, the Isles’ team captain, has been on a slump as Jack Capuano has shuffled the team’s first line in order to cater to his star forward.
While the defense has been much improved since Thomas Hickey has returned from injury, the power play has not been. It is dreadful — again — and could be the team’s Achilles Heel — again — in the playoffs.
Of course, there are still positives in their play. The penalty kill is the third best in the league and has successfully killed more than a quarter of a hundred consecutive power plays.
The goaltending (especially Thomas Greiss) has been outstanding, and has put the Isles in a position to come out of nearly every game with a victory. The team’s fourth line, per usual, has been awesome, while Frans Nielsen and Kyle Okposo have both been very impressive.
While there are positives, there are many, many negatives. The Isles have the opportunity to really make a statement if they can string together a couple of victories.
That all starts with a victory over the lousy Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday night.