Opponents from 10/22 through 10/26:
- vs. Vancouver Canucks – 5-4 Overtime Loss
- @ Pittsburgh Penguins – 4-3 Win
- vs. Philadelphia Flyers – 5-2 Loss
Last week featured a little bit of everything for the New York Islanders. Scoring spurts, thrilling last minute plays, John Tavares' continued point streak, and defensive lapses were all highlighted over the last six days as the Islanders concluded the week of October 21st with a 1-1-1 record.
While New York's defense had some very spotty showings throughout the course of the team's last three games played, the Isles' offense (ten goals scored), power-play (3/8), and penalty kill (10/10) have all been on par. Similarly, the Islanders showed signs of better offensive play at even strength and seemingly, if briefly, recaptured some of the resiliency that made them such a dangerous team to play against last season.
Despite the fact that New York fought hard to gain their points against the Canucks and Penguins, the team still had some porous showings on defense as they squandered two leads against Vancouver and gave Pittsburgh a 3-2 lead late in the third period after having scored the equalizer less than thirty seconds prior. Even though the Islanders only managed to secure half of their available points last week, the sterling play of John Tavares and Frans Nielsen has been something that fans have undoubtedly enjoyed.
On the one hand, Tavares will go into Tuesday night's contest against the New York Rangers looking to build upon his current ten game point streak. On the other hand, fellow centerman Nielsen will also be aiming to extend his four game point and goal streak on Tuesday night as the forward has registered goals in four straight games and has tallied eight points (4 Goals, 4 Assists) over that span.
Kyle Okposo also continued his impressive play by extending his point streak (3 Goals, 5 Assists) to five games, but individual offensive output took a backseat to defensive play as the Isles' inability to clear the puck from their offensive zone, coupled with poor coverage, led directly to scoring opportunities for the Canucks, Penguins, and Flyers. Although the Islanders' offensive prowess was on prime display over the last few games, the team's overall play undoubtedly fueled a shake-up that manifested itself in the Thomas Vanek-Matt Moulson trade.
Stirring Up The DNA
After the Vanek-Moulson trade was officially announced, many fans were understandably split over the departure of one no. 26 for another no. 26.
Matt Moulson was a fan favorite on Long Island over the last few years, but one has to believe that Garth Snow wouldn't trade away an integral player such as Moulson just to rent Thomas Vanek for the rest of the season. This is not to speculate that a contract extension is imminent or in the works, but there is no doubting the fact that the acquisition of Vanek bolsters New York's already potent offense.
Of course, it is always welcome to have a player such as Vanek come to the Islanders and assert himself alongside Tavares, but New York will have to strengthen up their defensive play, especially in their own zone, if they have hopes of getting to the Stanley Cup Playoffs and advancing past the first round. It is probably unlikely that Garth Snow will make another blockbuster move to acquire a defender or netminder – positions that some fans have been obsessing over since the start of the '13-'14 NHL season.
Shipping off Moulson might be a shock for many fans, but adjusting to seeing Vanek on Tavares' wing won't likely be a hardship for fans, particularly when the forward starts showing off the skill that made him a stand-out star in Buffalo. Matt Moulson is by no stretch of the imagination an afterthought player that can't play if it's not on John Tavares' wing, but making a deal for Vanek before the Sabres' asking price potentially increased was a savvy move by Snow.
Vanek's presence on the top-line in New York will draw attention away from Tavares and will open up the ice for more scoring opportunities as Vanek's play-making abilities will add an element to the Isles' top-line that Moulson did not have in his repertoire. As for a possible extension, Vanek must first be given time to get acclimated to his new teammates and surroundings, and if Evgeni Nabokov and Lubomir Visnovsky are any indicators, then it won't be out of the realm of possibility to see Snow re-sign the left winger. However you cut it, the New York Islanders did get better by dealing away Moulson, and if Vanek can help open up the ice for John Tavares and company, then fans will quickly start to embrace their new no. 26.