New York Islanders: HOLD
It was a tale of 3 months. The Islanders started the month with a Halak shutout in Washington going 3-0-1 in the first 4 games and things were starting to look up. Unfortunately the next 5 games they went 0-4-1 including 3 regulation losses at home which started with a brutal game in Columbus. The Islanders closed the month 4-1 losing only to the incredibly hot Wild who won their 12th in a row that night in what may be Halak’s last game as an Islander. In total they went 7-5-2 in the month, the best month so far this season, but not nearly good enough to be a playoff team. The team finally showed some signs of life so I upgrade the month to a hold from sell. At this point the Islanders are going to need a 10+ game win streak to have any chance to get back in the playoff race.
Snow’s handling of the goaltending : SELL
Halak came off a stellar World Cup of Hockey and if the Islanders were smart, they would have traded him at the start of the season. Instead we got the 3 headed monster – one goalie not seeing the ice for over 2 months, an agent tweeting, the Islanders “announcing” that Halak was available (which of course at that point no one would be interested) and finally putting Halak on waivers. There is no way around it, Snow really botched this one. If he thought Berube was part of the future than he should have taken advantage of Halak’s World Cup play and traded him, even if it meant only getting a 3rd rounder. Maybe Snow did try to trade him at the start of the season, but it always feels like we destroy any assets that we have where other teams always seem to be able to get value when someone is unhappy on their team. I would have thought someone would be willing to take him after the World Cup. Greiss has been the better goalie so far and has earned the #1 goaltending spot so hopefully this ends the uncertainty and provides closure so everyone can move forward.
There hasn’t been a lot to be positive on so far this year, so let’s talk about what did improve during December.
Anders Lee: BUY
Through November Anders Lee wasn’t even averaging 13 min a game and getting 3rd/4th line ice time. He started to heat up at the end of November scoring 4 goals in the last 4 games and in moving to line 1 during December put up a team best 9 goals this month. He’s back to getting to the front of the net and taking advantage of those opportunities. The Islanders desperately needed someone who could score on line 1 and Lee has delivered. Now only if the other winger on line 1 could finish…and please don’t talk to me about garbage assists…
Andrew Ladd: BUY
He was dreadful to start the year no doubt, but Ladd finally started to show signs of life during December. He was 2nd on the team in goals for the month at 6, he scored the GWG vs the Rangers on December 6th and closed the month with 5 goals in his last 8 games. To have any prayer of getting back in the playoff race Ladd needs to be scoring. It was nice to finally see it.
Ladd-Quine-Chimera Line: BUY
Capuano and his random line generator machine finally put together one that seems to be working. Chimera and Ladd have been disappointments so far to say the least but this line has been impressive since it was put together. It would be nice if Capuano actually stops tinkering with the lines every period and lets some of the lines develop some chemistry. When this team was successful in recent years all 4 lines were scoring. The Islanders goals per game jumped from 2.5 on the year through November to 3.4 during December. Lee along with this line was a big reason why.
Power Play: BUY
Finally the Islanders had a good month on the PP going 7-34 during the month for a 20.6% mark which brought up the season percentage to a paltry 15%. Unfortunately the Islanders are still next to last in power play goals and right at the bottom in the power play chances and that has to change if they want to move up in the standings. Lee and Tavares co led the month with 2 PPG each. Bailey had another 40 min of power play time in the month without a goal but still remains on the top line for some odd reason. 1 PPG in 105 minutes on line 1 this season means you shouldn’t be there and if you go back to last year he has 2 goals in about 200 minutes on the power play, this is not getting it done. Maybe someday this coaching staff will wake up but I highly doubt it. Either way it’s not surprising the PP got better and the Islanders had their best winning month of the season.
Ryan Strome: BUY
To say he has been abused is an understatement, the guy always seems to be the scapegoat and he’s too good of a talent to waste. It was his best month of the season as he closed with 7 points in the last 8 games. Can we just let the guy play? Personally I would like to see him in Bailey’s spot on line 1 and see what happens. Centering Kulemin and Clutterbuck isn’t the best way to use him in my opinion. Stop blaming him for everything, give him some ice time and let him stop looking over his shoulder and I think the results improve.
What’s on tap for January 2017:
The Islanders start the year with their “bye” week. The first game is Friday the 6th at Colorado. They play 5 of the first 6 away from Brooklyn and close the month with 6 straight home games. There is a home and home with the Panthers on the 11th and 13th. The Islanders need to come out with 18 points or better this month to get back in the race. Let’s hope they do. Happy New Year to everyone!