Photo: NHLI

The New York Islanders are currently in first place in the Eastern Conference. The team just completed a stretch of 7 road games, ending with a 5 and 2 record for the trip. The team started off against Winnipeg and Calgary, winning 5-2 and 2-1 respectively. The team then struggled a bit as they fell to both, Edmonton (5-2) and Vancouver (3-2). The team was fortunate enough to come back to the east coast and have two off days, and being able to practice at home at their practice facility, Ice Works, in Syosset, New York before taking on the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center last Friday night. Fans and the team alike recognized that it was a “must win”. The team had lost two in a row, and would need this game to give them the momentum to take on the Columbus Blue Jackets and more importantly, division rivals, the New York Rangers.

The Islanders managed to pull out a W in overtime over the Devils. Captain John Tavares had a three point night with one assist and two goals, one of which was the game winner. The following night the team was in Columbus to take on the Blue Jackets, with backup goaltender Chad Johnson in net. A 5-2 victory over Columbus came as a relief as Johnson’s goaltending has been spotty at best in the few starts he has had with the team this season. The momentum from back to back wins propelled the team into last night’s match up against long time division rivals, the New York Rangers. This was the last of the games between the two teams to take place on Rangers home ice for the season.

Over the span of the road trip, the team overall played a fast and offense-strong style of hockey. That being said, the team does a fantastic job of not relying too heavily on their top line. John Tavares is a super star player, and Kyle Okposo is constantly finding ways to take shots on net, however, they are not the end all be all for the team’s goal tally. This is one of the strengths of this new, younger, faster Islanders team. The team’s first home game since December 29th is this Friday at 7:00 PM as they take on the Pittsburgh Penguins. The two teams have been neck in neck to take possession of first place in the division for most of the season.

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