On Monday, the Devils beat the Rangers. And it was great, as all wins against the Rangers are. It was achieved with hard work, solid goalkeeping, and more hard work.
But we cannot dwell on that game. The Devils themselves definitely can't. There is another one tonight, and, on paper, the easiest of the remaining home games on this five game homestead: the New York Islanders. The Islanders actually won four games in a row. Well, they did before losing in Florida last Thursday. And then they lost a real close one in Tampa Bay. And they lost to the Kings in the shooutout tonight. Dom at Lighthouse Hockey has the recap of that one already up. Needless to say, the Islanders are, well, not good. And without Mark Streit, their power play, at the least, is worse.
That all said, the last time I discounted a team for being exceptionally poor in certain facets of the game, it was before that infamous 4-0 loss to Atlanta on January 8. It is true that the Islanders:
- Currently have the worst record in the NHL at 16-38-6.
- Joey MacDonald and now Yann Danis have shown off that they, in fact, have "game." They had to, the Islanders have conceeded an average of 33 shots per game! That's the second highest average in the league.
- Despite the above goaltenders' efforts, the Islanders give up an average of 3.3 goals per game, the third worst average in the league.
- Offense? Average amount of shots is sitting at 28.9 per game which isn't terrible. But the average goals scored per game of 2.43 tells me the finishing isn't there. It's better than the Rangers, though.
- Special teams isn't so bad. Power play is the 18th most effective at 17.6%. The penalty kill is tied with St. Louis for the 12th best at 82.2%
But I certainly wouldn't expect them to lie down and have it be an easy 2 points. While they lost their last 3 games, they've been competitive in each of them. The Devils will have to be especially careful of not looking ahead to Boston on Friday or San Jose on Sunday.
New Jersey should still beat this team, like they had in their previous three games between each other this season. They just need to not play down to their level, do a better job controlling the puck than they did against the Rangers, literally pour on the pressure early on to establish control of the game, and - I cannot stress this enough - avoid committing so many stupid penalties. I have no idea whether Streit will be back for the Islanders, but it's still an unnecessary risk to take.
Check out Lighthouse Hockey on gameday to check out the Islanders' point of view. As always, hit up Chere and/or Gulitti for the up-to-date news. I expect the same lineup, including a well-rested Johnny Oduya. As always, keep it clean, keep it relevant, and Go Devils.