Throughout 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 one x-factor for both the Isles and the opposing team they face that night.
While the cold weather continues to ravage the New York area, the New York Islanders have seemed to break away from their cold spell that had them reeling when they hit the bye week last Sunday.
The team returned to the ice this past weekend with a 7-2 throttling of the Rangers at MSG for their second win in a row. Winning on Saturday gave the Isles a two-game winning streak and some much extra confidence as they headed in to this week with four games in the next four games in the next six nights.
Still right there in the dogfight for a playoff spot in the Metro, this slate of games for New York this week are crucial to the team making sure this will be a second half to remember. Every game this week is huge from inter-conference tilts, to divisional clashes, to one of the best the West has to offer. Here’t the roundup for what’s on tap:
Tonight: at Montreal Canadiens
The Islanders will make their National TV debut when they battle the Habs for the first time this season later this evening. These two teams will meet again twice this season, once more in Montreal in February, and in Brooklyn in March.
Montreal’s season has not been what they had imagined as they currently reside sixth in the Atlantic Division, 12 points out of a wild card spot. Star goaltender Carey Price hasn’t been able to stop his teams’ bleeding as he just has only 13 wins in 30 starts this season. Even their big offseason acquisition — Jonathan Drouin — hasn’t paid much dividends as he has just 20 points in 38 games.
The Isles will look to make it three victories in a row and two wins in a row on the road. It’ll be another homecoming for Anthony Beauvillier who got to only play once in Montreal a year ago, but was the star of the show. Michael Dal Colle will also be looking to notch his first NHL point.
Matchup to watch: The Islanders fifth-ranked power play against the Habs 26th-ranked penalty kill.
X-Factors: Charles Hudon, Anthony Beauvillier
Tuesday: vs New Jersey Devils
Once they finish in Montreal, the Islanders will head right back on a plane home for a tilt with the Devils Tuesday evening. This will be the second half of a back-to-back for New York, and their second game with the Devils in nine days.
The Devils — who after a scorching start — have struggled of late, have been winless in regulation in their past six games, including their loss to the Isles, where they blew a two-goal lead in the third period. Their rookie trio — Jesper Bratt, Nico Hischier, and Will Butcher — continue to be lights out, while all-star Taylor Hall has drove the team to new heights.
It’s another huge game in the Metro for New York, one they can’t afford to lose especially with the standings as tight as they are. Josh Bailey could find himself back in the lineup after missing a few games, which would be a big boost. It could also be the home debut for Michael Dal Colle after playing his first two NHL games on the road.
Matchup to watch: Taylor Hall vs John Tavares. It’s always fun when these two face off.
X-Factors: Brian Boyle, Cal Clutterbuck
Thursday: vs Boston Bruins
The week doesn’t get any easier after tonight and tomorrow, as they welcome the red-hot Bruins to Barclays Center later this week. Thursday’s tilt will be the final time the two teams meet, with the B’s already securing the season series with their two wins.
Boston has had their way with New York this year, outscoring them 8-2 in their two games played. After a sluggish start to the year, they have been on a wicked roll led by their first line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak. Their youth have taken huge steps in the past month or so, most notably, the Long Beach, New York native, Charlie McAvoy.
The Isles on the other hand will hopefully counter the Marchand, Bergeron, Pastrnak trio with their newly formed second line of Jordan Eberle, Mathew Barzal, and Anthony Beauvillier.
Matchup to watch: The offense. These two teams score goals at will, and rank in the top-five in the league in goals for.
X-Factors: Riley Nash, Anders Lee
Saturday: at Chicago Blackhawks
Following Thursday’s game, the Islanders will head out for a three-game, six-day road trip, starting in Chicago this weekend. Saturday will be the first of two matchups between the Isles and Hawks, with them meeting again in late March.
This year has not been the kindest to the Blackhawks. One of the most dominant teams in the Western Conference and NHL since the beginning of the decade, the Hawks have yet to find that extra gear to push forward and take control of the Central Divsion. The contest will also be the first game for Chicago after their mandated bye week, so they’ll be ready to go or come out rusty.
New York will be looking for their first win against the Hawks since the 2014-15 season, and their first win at United Center since the 2008-09 season. Former Blackhawk, Nick Leddy will be facing his former club.
Matchup to watch: Mathew Barzal against Alex DeBrincat. Both rookies have been phenomenal this year.
X-Factors: Patrick Kane, Josh Bailey