John Tavares and his New York Islanders finished 5-3-1 with 11 points on a grueling nine-game road trip that ended Saturday night.Their last game of the “Circus road trip” came down to a last-minute shot by Nick Leddy, a goal that left the New York Islanders one goal short of tying the game, producing their third loss of the long road trip. Ultimately, this led the Isles one point out of the eastern conference playoff race.
A 5-3-1 road trip that began three weeks ago went much better then most thought it would. Beginning with a 3-1 win in Detroit, the more impressive win was the game against the Monteral Canadiens, a tough eastern conference team. However, the Islanders hit a major speed bump in Columbus losing 7-0 to the tough Blue Jackets. Fans started worrying that this would be a trend and that Jaroslav Halak should have been been called up right away.
The Islanders continued to play the way they have been since early January.
Since then, they have played well but still have some games where you still never know what you’re going to get. A major positive has come in the form of Andrew Ladd, who’s now up to 19 goals on the season. The man has turned his season completely around since a lousy start. Despite only three goals on the road trip, Ladd had an awesome February producing six goals.
The Tavares line has been great lately. The BLT line, as it is now known, has been producing goals as if they been together for years. This line of Bailey-Tavares-Lee has come together to all be in the top six goal producers. Tavares has looked great and is gelling well on the top line during games. Islanders TV analyst Butch Goring has even said, “Tavares is even scarier looking when he is looking for the puck than when he has it.”
The other two members of the line have also had good seasons and road trip. Andres Lee scored his 25th goal, tying his total from last season. Lee’s highlights of the trip were his two goals versus the Winnipeg Jets.
Josh Bailey flipped a switch this season and is producing on a line no one expected him to. Bailey may not be scoring the goals on the top line, but when assists are needed he has usually been the guy.
Fans finally got to see Josh Ho-Sang play after all of the deadline-day drama that had many fans thinking he might have been heading to Colorado. Ho-Sang would also get his first goal against Jets, in his third game in the NHL. Ho-Sang has played great and arguably should have scored a couple more goals.
With the Islanders headed to back to Brooklyn, they must keep up the pace to get back in a playoff spot. The schedule does not get any easier as the games wind down and the playoffs quickly approach. The Isles will need all these positive factors to keep winning games and make it into the eighth and final playoff spot.