Andy Graziano, SNY.TV Twitter
The NHL celebrates their best talent from the 2017-18 season this weekend as everyone gets together in Tampa and puts their best foot forward for the fans.
For the New York Islanders, John Tavares and Josh Bailey are enjoying themselves, with Bailey's 17-month old son joining him for this unforgettable memory that will last a lifetime. For the team, they currently sit outside of the playoff picture, one-point behind the Philadelphia Flyers and New Jersey Devils for one of the two wild-card positions. Three points ahead of the next team in the chase: Carolina Hurricanes.
- New York has won two of three, and took five of a possible six points in their completed road trip to Chicago, Arizona, and Las Vegas. They, somewhat remarkably, swept the season series from the Golden Knights.
- Even in wins, New York is not playing with any defensive consistency or appearance of structure. They allowed 39 shots in Chicago, dropped a point in Arizona off a lackluster performance, and allowed another 39 shots to Vegas, seemingly spending the entire third period in the defensive zone.
- Jaroslav Halak might not have the stats to show it (3.16, .909), but he has been good over his past five games or so. He completely stole the show in Sin City, and make no mistake, was the lone reason the Islanders were able to escape with a 2-1 victory. The safe assumption that Halak is in the final year of his Islanders career leads us to….
- Who the heck plays goal next year? Thomas Greiss has had a real rough season, and it's hard to determine if it's just an aberration or a trend. There is no sign Ilya Sorokin is anywhere close to coming over, if ever, leaving a cast of Bridgeport goaltenders, and crossing all fingers and toes Linus Soderstrom is ready and take the reins as goaltender of the future.
- Doug Weight has said he will no longer be discussing injuries for the remainder of the season, saying that 'tiptoeing around upper-body, lower-body, etc..is exhausting'. Hard to fault Weight's candor and honesty with the media, and he is clearly not breaking any NHL regulations, so there shouldn't be any issue with this….at all.
- If you watch the Islanders play defense (or try to anyway), you'll notice the defenseman often make ill-advised pinches, getting themselves caught, and leading to odd-man rushes for the opposition. I like aggressive hockey as much as the next person, but why does it always seem to happen at terrible times? When you're trying to nurse a one or two-goal lead, you should take a step back and be more prudent in your decisions when to be aggressive.
- With Brock Boeser at the All-Star festivities and Mathew Barzal not, attention has shifted to the Vancouver Canucks forward in discussion for the Calder trophy. With 51 points in 50 games, I still have Barzal ahead, and when the PHWA released the results from our mid-season voting on Friday, most of my colleagues agreed.
- We are now within a month to the trade deadline (February 26), and phones will begin to ring off the hook over the course of the next couple of weeks. Many, myself included, believe Garth Snow needs to make a move to get this team more prepared to play for a playoff spot. The roster, as currently constructed, even when Johnny Boychuk, Casey Cizikas, and Andrew Ladd return from injury, doesn't appear up to the task. Getting so little out of the bottom two units, in all three zones, has dragged the team down, and it will be easier to find a bottom-six forward than it will to find a top-four defenseman.
- Good luck to Arthur Staple, now formerly of Newsday, as he ends a terrific 20-year career at the newspaper as Islanders beat writer. Mr. Staple should be announcing his plans soon, and an announcement on who will succeed him at Newsday will also be coming. Thinking they stay in-house and give it to Mark Hermann or Brian Heyman.
- Joshua Ho-Sang had two goals and 12 points in 22 games. Ross Johnston has one and two in three.