The N.Y. Islanders hope they get some California love out west, as they attempt to get the gears in motion on their season. They’re hoping that things can change in Anaheim in their first of their three games in California. The Islanders will be getting the Californian tour, with stops in Anaheim, Los Angeles, and San Jose. Hopefully this little trip goes better than what they’ve been showing on the ice thus far. The Isles enter with a record of 5-8-4, so far from out of it, but they haven’t shown any indications of being a playoff team in 2016-17. The Islanders have been a quality team for the past several years, but are they running into a hole this season? In a salary capped leagued, keeping a competitive team in the fold for an entire decade can be difficult. Part of being a successful team year after year is keeping the finances in check. Kyle Okposo was a big reason for the resurgence of the Islanders, but it was pretty hard to keep him around given what he wanted for his wallet.
With regards to the Ducks, after the flop in the first-half of the season a year ago, it’s tough to say what’s going to come of them. At 9-7-3, I’m not sure that was the ideal start for them after hiring Randy Carlyle back. Carlyle won a Stanley Cup with the Ducks in 2007, and is looking to do the same thing he did with them then. Since leading the Ducks to a Stanley Cup, Carlyle spent time in Toronto as head coach of the Maple Leafs. Things clearly didn’t go according to plan for Carlyle, who was fired and replaced. This was after the Ducks went in a different direction following another choke job last season in the playoffs. They expect to not only make the playoffs, but to make it all the way to the finals and win another Cup. So, Carlyle has little room for effort, as he inherits a team that has shown it can play in the regular season. Fail to get the Ducks going in the regular season and you can imagine how it’s going to look for Carlyle. The Ducks have to punch the Islanders down while they’re not feeling all too confident.
The Islanders haven’t been a good team, if you happened to skip my rant up above. And where they’ve been especially bad is on the road. The Isles have yet to win a single game playing away from Brooklyn. They sport a record of 0-4-1 on the road, as they head into their west coast trip in California. I think it was important for the Islanders to catch some momentum while they could at home, but now that they take their show on the road, they’re going to have it even tougher than before. In the same breath, though, you could say that this is an opportunity to shake the cobwebs off and gain some confidence. Yes it is, but like I said, it’s not going to be easy against three very good teams. With Okposo in Buffalo, the absence of Mikhail Grabovski is bigger than it seems. It doesn’t look like much, but down a starting centre is not the best the best for a team who needs more facilitators other than John Tavares.
The Ducks are 6-3-0 in Anaheim at the Duck Pond, a place where they’ve been one of the best home teams in the NHL across the last five or so years. It’s the defensive end that’s been really letting the Islanders down. They are allowing 3.16 goals per game, which ranks 24th in the league. Coupled with the fact they are 21st in scoring, this is where you get a 5-8-4 record from. The Islanders have lost four straight games, and have only one win in their last seven attempts. The Ducks should be able to handle the Islanders at home tonight. Look for a win in regulation from them.