New for this season, Our Rob Taub will give his preview of the week ahead for the New York Islanders. There will be what to watch for, and x-factor the Isles will have to key in on for each of their opponents.
The first full week of the 2017-18 season is in the books for the Isles. New York finds themselves at 2-3-1, after going 1-2-0 on their three-game road trip out in California. There’s been both good and bad from the club. But this early in the year, there’s always room for improvement. Their two contests this week could be the spark they need to finally get things rolling this year.
Thursday: @ New York Rangers
The Isles make their first trip to Madison Square Garden later this week for a date with their crosstown rivals. This rivalry always brings out the best of both teams, and since it will be the first matchup between the two this year, the stakes are raised for the players and coaches. The Isles have had the Blueshirts number as of late, winning seven out of the last eight meetings between the two teams.
The Rangers have underperformed to start the season, and are reeling a bit. With the Isles having four days off, it could be beneficial how the coaching staff and players exploit the Blueshirts decencies. Also, Mathew Barzal will get his first taste of this hated rivalry.
Matchup to watch: The Islanders young forwards against the Rangers sturdy defense
X-Factors: Josh Ho-Sang, Mika Zibanejad
Saturday: vs San Jose Sharks
The Isles will finish up their season series with San Jose when they come calling this weekend. This will be exactly a week since the two teams met in Northern California with New York prevailing 3-1. San Jose will be the second Western Conference opponent to come to Barclays Center. New York will be looking to extend their home point streak after they totaled three points in their first two home games against Buffalo and St. Louis.
San Jose will definitely be a huge challenge for the Isles, especially coming off playing the Rangers the game before. The myth that the “Ranger Hangover” always rears its ugly head, is always on the minds of the fans, and sometimes the players and coaches.
Matchup to watch: The Isles defense against the Sharks forwards size
X-Factors: Kevin Labanc, Jordan Eberle