Islanders Insight’s Weekly Preview: 3/14/16

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The New York Islanders posted a 2-1-1 record last week claiming five of a possible eight points. The Islanders started last week continuing their success through their road trip defeating the New York Rangers, then coming back home to claim another victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins before going back out on the road again. Back out on the road, the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Islanders in overtime, then after a two day break, the Islanders would be defeated by the Boston Bruins 3-1 in regulation. Now, Islanders Insight will take a look at the work load the Islanders have set for the week ahead.

Monday, March 14th New York Islanders vs Florida Panthers (7:00 pm ET, LIVE: MSG+, TVAS, RADIO: WNYE 91.5 FM, WRHU 88.7 FM & 103.9 LI NEWS RADIO)

The last time the Islanders faced the Panthers, it was December 15th, and the Panthers would go on to dominate in a 5-1 victory. Now, the Islanders look to get a little revenge as the Panthers visit Brooklyn for the second time this season. The Panthers had a good week last week claiming five of a possible six points, keeping them right in the hunt for first place in the Atlantic Division, where they currently sit in second place and trail the first place Bruins by one point. The Panthers potted an impressive 15 goals in three games last week. Of those 15 goals, only two came on the power play, meaning the Panthers posted a dominating 13 goals during 5v5 play last week. The offense is rolling for the Panthers, but it doesn’t stop there. The Panthers penalty kill had a great week as well, killing off eight of a nine penalties. In the Panthers past 10 games, they are 5-3-2, and are in the middle of a competitive Atlantic Division with only one point separating first and third place.

Player to Watch: In his past 10 games, Jussi Jokinen has been on fire posting with at least a point per game, with a total of twelve points including 10 helpers.

Tuesday, March 15th New York Islanders at Pittsburgh Penguins (7:00 pm ET, LIVE ON MSG+, TVAS, SNO, SNW, SNP, RADIO: WNYE 91.5 FM, WRHU 88.7 FM & 103.9 LI NEWS RADIO)

Last Tuesday, the Islanders overcame the Penguins in a hard fought game claiming a 2-1 victory. Back in Pittsburgh, the Penguins will look to even the score in a week where they have already beaten the New York Rangers. The Penguins suffered a big loss to their lineup, losing All-Star center, Evgeni Malkin, for 6-8 weeks with an upper-body injury. The Penguins claimed four of six points last week, and have already taken two points this week. The Penguins only sit two points out of third place in the Metropolitan Division, just behind the Islanders, making the rivalry that much more intense. In the Penguins last four contests dating back to March 6th, the Penguins power play has been mediocre scoring three times in their last 13 attempts, just under a power play goal a game. Most of their offensive production comes from their 5v5 play, but expect the offensive production to take a hit with Malkin sidelined. As for the Penguins penalty kill, it’s been above average killing 10 of their last 13 penalties, including a perfect 2/2 against the Islanders last week. In this high stake rivalry matchup, expect tempers to flare and fists to fly as the points matter more than ever.

Player to Watch: Last week, Sidney Crosby, was our player to watch, and this week he’s at it again. Crosby’s point production has been outstanding in his past 10 games with 13 points (4 goals, 9 assists) in a season where he hasn’t “played to form” of Sidney Crosby status. Crosby is a goal shy of 30 on the season and 70 points, so look for him to be hungry as he always is against the Islanders.

Thursday, March 16th New York Islanders at Nashville Predators (8:00 pm ET, LIVE ON MSG+, SN360, RADIO: WNYE 91.5 FM, WRHU 88.7 FM & 103.9 LI NEWS RADIO)

The Islanders and the Predators haven’t met since the beginning of the season on October 15th at the Barclay’s Center. Now the Islanders travel to Nashville and look to sweep the Predators in the second and final meeting of the season. The Islanders defeated the Predators 4-3 in regulation in a game where the Islanders goaltender, Thomas Greiss, stood on his head to make 44 saves on 47 shots. With the Predators seven points ahead of the eighth and ninth place Wild and Avalanche in the Western Conference, they will look to add some more cushion to their first wild card spot standing in the Western Conference with a win over the Islanders. The Predators took three of six points last week defeating the Winnipeg Jets, claiming a point in overtime to the Calgary Flames, and falling to the Vancouver Canucks. Nashville has always played a defensive style of hockey, and in their three contests last week, their true colors really showed. The power play was an abysmal 0 for 10 last week, and the Predators currently sit close to the middle of the pack at 12th in the league for power play percentage, one spot lower than the Islanders. However, even though their penalty kill hasn’t been great this season sitting at 21st overall in the league, the Predators went a perfect 11 for 11 in penalty kills last week.

Player to Watch: You have to wonder if the Washington Capitals are kicking themselves for trading Swedish superstar, Filip Forsberg. 13 points in his last 10 games? Two hat-tricks in a week? Are you kidding me? Oh, and he’s only 21 years old.

Saturday, March 19th New York Islanders at Dallas Stars (8:00 pm ET, LIVE ON MSG+, RADIO: WNYE 91.5 FM, WRHU 88.7 FM & 103.9 LI NEWS RADIO)

This is one long week for the Islanders as their last stop of the week is in Dallas to play an offensive power house, the Stars. Jamie Been, Tyler Seguin, Jason Spezza, John Klingberg all in one lineup? Yikes! The last time the Islanders and the Stars met, it may have been exactly what you expected, a lot of scoring! The Islanders emerged victorious at the Barclays Center that day outscoring the Stars 6-5. Now back in Dallas, the Stars are keeping it rolling claiming six points in their last eight games while scoring 14 goals last week. Their goals per game average is first in the league at a 3.21% and their power play is 4th overall at 22.4%. This showed last week when the Stars scored on 5 of 14 power play chances, with at least one power play goal per game. Not only has their offensive production been good, but last week the Stars had a great penalty kill unit going a perfect 14 for 14 despite their mediocre penalty kill percentage of 80.8%, 18th overall in the NHL. The Stars sit tied for first in the tight Central Division, with the same exact record as the St Louis Blues. Have I mentioned the points are more important than ever?

Player to Watch: Have yourself a week, Jason Spezza! Spezza scored five goals last week and  is currently on a six game goal streak with seven goals including a two goal game against the Blues on Saturdays. In his last ten games, Spezza has 11 points, 10 of them being goals! I’d say being on the first power play unit with Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin has something to do with it.

The Islanders started the week well, but unfortunately fell later in the week during their four game work week. They claimed five of a possible eight points and the road ahead doesn’t look easier. The penalty kill unit has held steady, still sitting at third overall in the league with an 85.4%, and the power play sits just outside of the top 10 in the league at 19.5%. This could be the most important week of the year for the Islanders thus far, as they face four very good opponents where all games are a must-win game.

Islanders Player to Watch: The captain scored his 200th goal of the season on Saturday and John Tavares is currently on a three game goal streak. With seven points in his last 10 games, look for the captain to get his team going on and off the ice during the most crucial part of the season.

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