Yeah, I know the Meat Loaf song goes "Two out of three ain't bad," but three out of four is even better.
The Isles started off their road trip with an over-time loss in the shootout, an 11-round one at that, to the Washington Capitals. It was a game in which the Isles let the Ovenchkin-less Caps back in after gaining a 3-1 lead in the first period. Last night the Isles pulled a 3-0 lead in the first and let the Canes back in over the course of the next two periods, allowing overtime to ensue once again.
If you DVR these games you might wanna start adding an extra fifteen minutes or so to your recorder settings, because this team cannot win in regulation.
Be that as it may, the Islanders still have managed to gain 3 out of a possible 4 points to start this road trip and are 6-2-2 in their last 10. Tonight they face the struggling Florida Panthers, another game they should win. However, they are on the latter-end of back-to-back games and flew from Raleigh to Florida. I'm not making excuses here, but it will be interesting to see how well they perform against a team they should beat.
The Isles recent play has many fans thinking about the playoffs...and this is where I'm going to reiterate my predictions that I stated at the end of August:
So with all that being said, where do I see this team finishing?
Not dead last. But not in the playoffs either. With Biron and Roloson as our goaltending tandem and Okposo, Bergenheim, Comeau, and Gervais emerging with the newly acquired John Tavares thrown into the mix, I expect this team to compete and avoid a lot of the lopsided losses we experienced last year. I even see us as high as 10th or 11th at some point in the season. But down the stretch I'll predict the Isles to finish 13th in the Eastern Conference.
I even mentioned somewhere that this team would fool many fans into thinking that playoffs are a reality, and that's what I think we're seeing. And of course, we're still in November here folks, the playoffs are a distant concern.
But like I said in a comment on Dee Karl's blog, http://www.hockeybuzz.com...hread.php?thread_id=70881
If they make the playoffs, then they make the playoffs. You won't find me complaining that we didn't get a top-10 draft pick. And it's always possible that Garth Snow, who has been able to acquire picks at the draft, whether to move up or move down, may be able to move up if he doesn't get the pick he wants. This team will have a few good tradable assets by the deadline, so anything is possible.
It is much nicer to have a competitive hockey team on the ice, but my original prediction still stands. We'll see though. At this time last year we were looking as a solid lock for last place. This year we're in the 7th seed.
One difference (and similarity) that I've noticed from this Isles team to those of years past: The Islanders of Peca, Parrish, Bates, Yashin, Aucoin and so on would be sitting right about at .500 around this time of year with a roster that should have been higher. They'd fall to 10th, 11th, and then barely squeeze into 8th place. This current Isles squad seems to be doing the same, but the MAJOR difference is that we have young kids that are emerging into clutch performers instead of having aging veterans struggling to get it done.
And one can only think that we're going to get better.
I loved seeing John Tavares score a goal out of mid-air after the puck careened off the glass behind the net. It brought back the memory of seeing him score that goal in the World Junior Championships where he hit the puck to himself, and then hit it again to score before being decked to the ice.
And it's impossible to ignore Kyle Okposo, fresh off his swine-flu recovery, picking off a pass at the blue-line to out-muscle Joni Pitkanen and lift the puck over Legace's shoulder to win it before the shoot-out.
They should not have let the game get to over-time; they should have held on to a 3-goal lead; Biron should not have let up a weak goal from the point with under 3 minutes remaining; but hey, three out of four points ain't bad.
Tonight, Isles at Florida at 7.