***An earlier version of this morning’s newsletter was sent to subscribers last night in error***
Good Morning, Islanders Country.
The Islanders are undefeated in 2022 and are guaranteed to stay that way for a while. It’s hard enough to build momentum in this league without having to wait weeks in between games, but that is what the Islanders are once again facing in this start and stop 2021-22 season.
Moving forward, there’s no choice but to make the best of this impromptu staycation - that means getting healthy, firming up their game, and preparing for the remainder of what will be a grueling subject to change schedule.
At least their last game kept us wanting more and feeling good about their play, ending on a Noah Dobson OT wrister followed by an endearing Cal Clutterbuck face wash.
Coming up, youth is being served and producing results, as is the Islanders’ power-play. Plus, what Dobson did that hadn’t been done since 2007 and the 500th for the greatest goal scorer in team history.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Due to the extended break in the schedule, we will take a pause of our own this week and return with the newsletter as the next game draws closer.
Let’s dive in.
📰 NEWS: The Islanders defeated the Edmonton Oilers 3-2 in overtime on New Year’s Day thanks to the increasingly common heroics of Noah Dobson. The Isles were previously winless in seven games on New Year’s Day and it was their first overtime win of the season after failing to earn the second point in six attempts (3 OT, 3 SO losses).
"Any time you get a chance to contribute like that, in a big game, get a big win, especially in a day like today," Dobson said. "The atmosphere was great, the crowd was buzzing. I was really happy to score a big one. I'll definitely remember that one."
2022 is off to a great start, but now we wait.
🧒 YOUTH MOVEMENT: The Islanders have collected points in nine of their last 11 games and much of that success can be credited to the youngins. Dobson has tallied five goals, 10 points in his last 10 games, with four points on the power play. Oliver Wahlstrom matches Dobson, scoring three goals, 10 points, five points on the power play in his last 10 games and Kieffer Bellows appears to be finding his stride at the NHL level with seven points (three goals, four assists) in his last seven games played.
🔋 POWER PLAY: Did you know the Islanders’ power play is third-best in the NHL dating back to December 2nd? Hard to believe, right? The Isles have converted on 34.6% of their chances on the man advantage and Mathew Barzal leads the Isles with six power-play points (all assists) in that span.
On Saturday, it was Anders Lee scoring his 10th goal of the season just 14 seconds into the power-play. Lee stopped a Bellows' pass from the left circle in front and backhanded it past Mikko Koskinen for the team’s eighth goal with the man-advantage in their last nine games. The goal also tied Lee with Brock Nelson for the team lead.
😴 SIT BACK AND RELAX: There had been speculation that the cancellation of the Islanders’ road trip to Canada could create an opportunity to make-up other postponed games, but in an article by Kevin Kurz in The Athletic, he confirmed that there are no plans for the Isles to play before January 13th against the Devils.
In an email to The Athletic on Saturday morning, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said that he does not “anticipate that there will be additional games scheduled” prior to the Islanders-Devils game at UBS Arena. Daly did add that “nothing is final in that regard,” but early indications are that New York will have its second extended break after going 10 days between games against Vegas on Dec. 19 and Buffalo on Dec. 30.
Put another way, they will have played just three games in 25 days by the time they are likely to suit up again. And now, if the NHL season remains 82 games and still concludes on April 29, the Islanders will have to somehow play their final 54 games in just 106 days. That’s a little more than one game every other day.
⏭ NEXT UP: The Islanders trip through Western Canada which included a stop in Seattle has been postponed following attendance restrictions in Canadian cities due to COVID-19. The expectation is for the games to be rescheduled once the restrictions are eased or lifted. As of now, the Islanders will have to wait for game action until Jan. 13th when they host the New Jersey Devils at UBS Arena.
Courtesy of The Athletic, here is a running list of the postponed games:
👨👩👧👦 BRING YOUR KIDS TO WORK DAY: The matinee was a great opportunity for parents to bring their kids to UBS Arena, and the same was true for the players. Michelle Farsi of Getty Images caught these priceless moments:
🚨 MORE LIKE IT: Eyes on Isles’ Michel Anderson accurately points out the Islanders winning percentage in the last 11 games is an NHL’s 12th best (.636%) which is a lot closer to how everyone believed the Islanders would perform this season.
The Islanders were seven points out of the second wild-card with four games in hand over the Red Wings entering Sunday but after the Boston Bruins 5-1 win over Detroit, the Isles are eight points behind Boston having each played 28 games.
📚 SOUND SMART (The Noah Dobson Edition): Per The Skinny, Noah Dobson is the first Islander defenseman to score an overtime goal before his 22nd birthday since Mathieu Biron did so on January 29, 2000. Dobson, who will turn 22 years old on Friday, was 22 days old when Biron scored his winner.
Dobson is also the first Islander defenseman with at least a goal and an assist in consecutive games since Marc-Andre Bergeron did so on March 10-13, 2007. Denis Potvin is the only Islander defenseman to do in three (or more) consecutive games.
🗓 ISLE REMEMBER: On January 2nd, 1986, Mike Bossy scored his 500th career goal in a 7-5 win against the Boston Bruins. He became the first-ever Islander to reach the 500 goal mark and the fastest player to 500 goals reaching the milestone in 647 games at the time until Wayne Gretzky broke the record soon after in the same year.
From The New York Times archive:
“A lot of good things came from tonight's game,'” said Bossy, alluding to his milestone, John Tonelli's 4-point evening, Bryan Trottier's 3 points, and a pregame ceremony honoring Potvin, who became the National Hockey League's highest scoring defenseman with his 916th point on Dec. 20th.
''I'm glad I scored,'' Bossy said, ''and I'm especially glad that we won the game.''
🔗 WHAT DOES SUCCESS FOR THE ISLANDERS LOOK LIKE IN 2022? by James Nichols, The Fourth Period: “…this team is not in blowup mode, and if they miss the playoffs this season I don’t think it’s a complete disaster. But if you do miss the playoffs this season it’s gonna be a hell of an important offseason.”
🔗 ISLANDERS TOP MOMENTS FROM 2021, by Jacob Beekman, Drive4Five: “2021 was one of the best years ever for the Islanders and their fans. The Isles began 2021 with a win over the New York Rangers on Jan. 14 and ended 2021 with a win against the Buffalo Sabres on Dec. 30. The Islanders will look to carry over some momentum from 2021 over to 2022 and make the playoffs this season.”
And we leave you with this…the always clever Newsday back-page summed up the current Islanders situation perfectly on Sunday with this humorous headline.
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