Photo: Dinur Blum
The 2014-2015 New York Islanders are a force to be reckoned with. The Islanders returned from the All-Star break to take on division rivals, the New York Rangers. It was announced after the All-Star break that the team’s top 6 power forward, Kyle Okposo would be placed on IR with an “upper body injury.” Okposo is one of the team’s anchor players, the forward, who has 44 points in 46 games played, is a key ingredient to the Islanders’ success. However, amidst the after-math of a blizzard, the Nassau Coliseum was abuzz as the game went on as scheduled, with the third place Rangers visiting the first place Islanders.
With All-Star goalie, Jaroslav Halak in net, the team played strong, even with Okposo missing from the line up. The team instead placed off-season acquisition, Mikhail Grabovski on the first line to play as John Tavares’ winger. Grabovski currently has 14 points in 38 games played, however, he has proven to play a style of hockey that fits very well into the form of this new and improved Islanders team. His vision and passing on the ice is excellent, even scoring a game in last night’s match against the Rangers.
Ultimately the Islanders defense was on point, bringing the team to a near shut out, the only Rangers goal coming from Carl Hagelin with just 9 seconds left in the game. The Islanders brought down the Rangers at Nassau Coliseum winning 4-1, with goals from Grabovski, Martin, Strome, and a power play goal from Tavares. This is the third of five match-ups between the two teams this season, and thus far, the Islanders have earned the W at each meeting.
The team takes on the Boston Bruins in their next game on January 29th at Nassau Coliseum, the next series of games will be extremely important to the team. Losing such a prominent on and off-ice figure from the line up can prove to be detrimental to any team. The Islanders must win the majority of their next few games, to keep themselves from losing confidence. This will give the team a chance to see if they rely too heavily on a few star players, something that I don’t think this particular squad does. However, it remains to be seen how much of an impact this Okposo injury will have on the them. As of now, the team released a statement indicating that Okposo is expected to return in 6-8 weeks.