Just one week ago, I never would have imagined that the Islanders would be on the verge of winning their fourth consecutive game – especially after dropping 7 straight. This afternoon the Isles take on the San Jose Sharks who are on the back half of back to back matinée games. The Sharks lost to the Rangers yesterday by a score of 3-1 and it appears their latest road trip has them a bit tired. However, it is only the second game of the teams longest of the season, finishing at 8 games on the road. Hopefully the Islanders do not sit back and think they can automatically win, as they have been after a team has played two consecutive nights. The Sharks are dangerous no matter how tired or slow they appear, much like the dangerous fish they represent.
To make matters even worse, the Sharks have not lost at the Coliseum in 12 years. Granted, the last time the team played at the Coliseum was 2001 and finished in a 2-2 tie. Unfortunately for the Sharks, one of their key players – Patrick Marleau is out with a groin injury so the Islanders are not the only team suffering key injuries (Sillinger, Witt, Gervais, Campoli, Sim). However, the Isles cannot overlook Thornton, Cheechoo, 23 year old Milan Michalek and of course netminder Evgeni Nabokov.
A win over the Sharks this afternoon, would put the team in 10th place with 63 points, just one point behind both Buffalo and Boston who are tied for points at 64 (but not wins) for the 8th and final playoff spot. The team would leap frog both Atlanta and Washington who have each been stalled at 62 for several games. Just like that, the Islanders are literally right back in the thick of the playoff hunt. If the Islanders do pull out a win today – it will make things even more interesting rolling into Wednesday’s game against the Capitals, a team who would be HOT on their heels.
The Islanders certainly control their own destiny, they need to continue their strong, smart play in the defensive zone and keep driving to the front of the net in order to score those gritty goals that have been making them so successful. It should be a fun game to watch, I can guarantee you that much.
I have a good feeling about Satan and Bergenheim today – these are both players who had exceptionally strong games on Saturday night and could lead the Islanders offense this afternoon, mark my words!