After a 1-3 start and rumblings, early even for #Isles fans, that it was time for Jack Capuano to get the heave-ho, the past few days have seen some major developments, most of which have been positive. Most importantly, Friday to Monday saw the Islanders rattle off two very different wins, with the team stealing the first one on the back of stellar special-teams play and then dominating the second thanks to an avalanche of second period scoring. But in addition to the team finding ways to win, on and off the ice things have been heating up in the Islanders-sphere.
1) The Islanders’ Penalty Kill is on Fire
Not only are the Isles tops in the league at fending off the man advantage, but their PK has also generated exactly as many goals (1) as has the power play. Obviously that stat is as much an indictment of the power play as it is an endorsement of the penalty kill. But the fact that Johnny Boychuk‘s game winner over the Arizona Coyotes 2.0 came shorthanded and that the Islanders killed all seven of the power plays they faced during their winning streak underlines just how central the Islanders’ penalty kill has been to the team’s recent success.
2) Ed Mangano in Hot Water
Sure, the arrest of Nassau County Executive and Islanders’ Public Enemy #1A (along with Kate Murray) Ed Mangano did not directly improve the Islanders’ play and, of course, the revelation that Mangano is a crook came to the surprise of exactly no fans.
And not a soul in Islanders Country is shocked. https://t.co/zbQ9EUbXLe
— Chris Botta (@ChrisBottaNHL) October 19, 2016
But whether it had any perceivable effect or not, the Isles are now 2-0 since Mangano turned himself in to the feds and traded monogrammed cuff links for one-size-fits-all silver bracelets. That success at least gives rise to the very outside possibility, (so you’re saying there’s a chance?), that the Islanders have been the recipient of some positive karmic energy. And even if Mangano’s arrest had no impact on the team whatsoever, I for one at least feel a little better knowing that while Mangano may have cost the Islanders the Barn, at least now he’s headed to the pen.
3) Hot Islanders Good–Warm Ice Bad
Amid the Islanders’ successes on the ice, the surface itself has continued to be a major embarrassment for the team and ended up dominating much of the conversation this weekend. Even Bradley Cooper would struggle to find a silver-lining in the poor ice conditions at Barclays Center. It has gotten so bad that after the Isles’ win against the Coyotes Cal Clutterbuck said the ice was the worst he has ever seen in his career.
The quote by Clutterbuck got the ball rolling on an eventful 48 hours in which it was revealed that the piping system in the Barclays Center does not even meet the NHL’s minimum requirements and that the Islanders are continuing to scout Citi Field as a replacement stadium location. All of that taken together demonstrates the necessarily temporary nature of the fixes Barclays Center put into place during the offseason to mitigate last season’s ice issues. And it also serves as a reminder that, while the Islanders were able to at least draw one of the top free agents on the market, Andrew Ladd, via free agency this year, there is the still-looming fear that the team could miss out on marquee players if the conditions are not improved.
Worst of all, for the time being there appears to be little the Islanders can do to fix the problem, since it reportedly stems from Barclays Center using PVC pipes, which would require an offseason fix (which presumably could have been, but wasn’t, taken care of this past summer). Maybe, if nothing else, the Islanders, because they will be more familiar with the nuances of playing on a soupy rink than will their opponents, could somehow find an advantage in at least knowing where the puddles will be and how to avoid them. If the players can be coached on how to respond to questions about the ice
Isles clearly were “coached” to stop griping about ice. Boychuk gave a smiling non-answer and then turned to PR guy and said “was that OK?”
— Peter Botte (@PeterBotte) October 24, 2016
then maybe they can also be coached on how to respond to the ice more closely resembling a slip and slide.
And if the Islanders cannot turn the ice into an advantage, then they will just have to rely on whomever is on the Captain’s wing to continue sending perfect passes, regardless of whether the ice is bouncy or not.
Josh Ho-Sang may be the hero Gotham deserves:
Here is a look at Michael Dal Colle’s first professional goal off a great feed from Josh Ho-Sang! 👀👍🏻 pic.twitter.com/4jNCaYxhS3
— The Sound Tigers (@TheSoundTigers) October 22, 2016
But right now Josh Bailey is the hero Gotham needs: