The New York Islanders have a lot to feel good about in a 2-1-0 start, but know the work is only beginning through the first week of the 2018-19 season.
There’s a lot for the New York Islanders to feel good about, especially after a few days of savoring a 4-0 shutout win over the intimidating San Jose Sharks.
The season opener in Raleigh left us with a couple of different impressions of the squad so far, while they only allowed a single goal in a 2-1 OT win over the Hurricanes their defensive play saw Thomas Greiss get peppered as he steered aside 45 shots.
Griess’ season debut was a strong message to himself and the league, that he’s still capable of stealing a game for his team when the need arises.
Unfortunately, the contest against the Nashville Predators just two days later also showed Greiss is still capable of blowing a game for the Islanders as well. Mattias Ekholm‘s soft wrist shot found its way past Greiss’ glove hand and Viktor Arvidsson caught Greiss deep in his net when the Preds’ fourth goal entered.
All in all, the Predators hit Greiss with just 18 shots when their fourth goal went through, and 23 in total. When the Islanders turned to Robin Lehner against the Sharks the following Monday, his performance did not disappoint.
All 35 shots were turned away, and the Islanders pulled through largely thanks to depth scoring from Scott Mayfield (first goal from an Islander defenseman this season), Matt Martin and Casey Cizikas.
The Islanders new guys have impressed right off of the first goal of the season, scored by Valtteri Filppula. Filppula already has two goals and three points in the Islanders first three games and both him and Leo Komarov have played heavy minutes on a penalty-kill, which, (knock on wood) is at a perfect eight for eight so far.
Martin’s return has served as an underrated shot in the arm for the old “best fourth line in hockey.” Cal Clutterbuck and Casey Cizikas both look like rejuvenated players after the return of their linemate. So far, they’ve scored three points between them and two goals and Clutterbuck’s first tally since Jan. 13, 2018 has to be just around the corner with the reunion of the bash brothers.
Though Mat Barzal is picking up where he left off last season (1-3-4), Anthony Beauvillier has yet to register a point while playing alongside his new bestie and the reigning Calder Trophy champion. The youngster has had some good looks, but no dice yet through three games, however as Barzal showed last season, it only takes one to get going.
The Islanders recently placed Jan Kovar on unconditional waivers as they decided to part ways with one of the KHL’s most prolific scorers. Kovar was assigned to Bridgeport just before the season started and after not reporting to the Sound Tigers, he’s taking some time to figure out his next move.
By many around the league, this was an interesting move by the Islanders, and not for good reasons.
Per source Kovar still wants to find a spot in the NHL however a potential return to Magnitogorsk Metallurg is what many feel to be the likely scenario.
— Aivis Kalniņš (@A_Kalnins) October 11, 2018
For one, their center depth takes a considerable hit and an injury to any roster player would refer the Islanders to one of Ryan Hitchcock, Connor Jones or Travis St. Denis.
As Arthur Staple of The Athletic pointed out, it could lead to the Islanders re-upping on the 35-year-old Stephen Gionta who will spend time with Bridgeport and likely be the first call-up in the event that more depth is needed.
Kovar deserved at least a nine-game look in the NHL, but his story with the Islanders ends the same way it did for Kirill Petrov. Hopefully, Kovar is able to find what he’s looking for, or maybe for the Isles sake hopefully his next move is to head back home to Metallurg Magnitogorsk, now also the club of former-Islander Nikolay Kulemin.
The Islanders are back in action Saturday in Nashville to face the Predators with puck drop scheduled for 8 p.m. ET.