New York Islanders Intel 1/08/2017: Isles looking for mental reset heading into bye week
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 07: Mathew Barzal #13 and Jaroslav Halak #41 of the New York Islanders celebrate a victory over the New Jersey Devils at the Barclays Center on January 7, 2018 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. The Islanders defeated the Devils 5-4 in the shootout.

With their win over the Devils, the Islanders head into the bye week ready to decompress and start fresh to secure a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Every Islanders fan felt exactly what Jaroslav Halak was feeling right after Brian Gibbons hit the post in the last frame of the Islanders’ 5-4 shootout win over the Devils.

Halak threw up both hands and seemed to be giving thanks to the hockey Gods. Finally, at last, something had went right for the Islanders despite how turbulent the ride was to get to the second point.

Halfway through the third period the Devils maintained a 4-2 lead, and “here we go again” raced through the minds of every Islanders fan, player, coach and probably even owner watching. Halak took out his fury on his stick and net and things seemed destined for failure.

Knowing the final outcome, the frustration is easier to stomach looking back. But boy oh boy did we sympathize with Halak on that goal.

The Islander netminders have faced barrels of criticism concerning the team’s defense, but it doesn’t tell nearly the whole tale. All season we’ve known the defense has struggled overall, but now that Halak has finally found some rhythm to his game his defenders haven’t quite matched it.

The Isles allowed a whopping 46 shots on goal against the Devils, 21 in what was a scoreless first period alone. Halak was up to the task and has been up to the task in what has proven to be a thankless task in the five games prior. Thomas Greiss may still be struggling to find himself, but the Islanders have at least one goalie who seems to be breaking past the defensive struggles.

With their six-day break, there are to be no games or practices for the Isles which is ideal to break away from their slump. Some time at home with family to get away for a bit should prove ideal for everyone.

Isles News

Unfortunately, the injury bug has continued to bite the Islanders. Top goalie prospect Linus Soderstrom was at the Barclays Center during the Islanders’ win over the Devils and Newsday‘s Arthur Staple picked up this tid-bit.

The initial thought on Soderstrom was that he was out for the season, but the Isles rookie is expected to return to his club this season.

For those of you who may not have heard, top defensive prospect Devon Toews will undergo season-ending surgery as well. Had it not been for that, he would have likely been called up in Sebastian Aho‘s place.

There were likely some roster moves that caused confusion after the Isles win as well:

The reason for these transactions is to make sure the kids get their proper playing time during the Isles break. The Sound Tigers will play their rival Hartford Whalers on January 10, and the Providence Bruins in a back-to-back scenario on January 12 and 13. My money’s on expecting a recall before these two games to make sure they’re fresh for the Islanders’ game against the Rangers on the 13.

For the regulars that were banged up against Pittsburgh, there is good news, or at least better news.

Josh Bailey will be the only question mark to return, it seems Andrew Ladd will be ready to go sooner than later and Johnny Boychuk‘s timetable shrunk significantly. As for when their returns will be, that remains to be seen. But six days of rest can only help that as well.

Enjoy the next week of rest, the season resumes on the 13 at Madison Square Garden.

Grew up a diehard Islanders and Mets fan based out of Northern New Jersey. Concluding my Broadcast Communications degree at William Paterson University. WP Sportsdesk member, Stan Fischler correspondent, music buff and total Star Wars freak. Follow my social media handles to learn more. Matt Di Giacomo is a Staff Writer for the Islanders on Elite Sports NY. He encourages team discussion. Tweet him @mdigiacESNY and check out his reviews on YouTube.