The last couple of weeks have been tough for the New York Islanders and their fans. First, Frans Nielsen was injured in a game against the Colorado Avalanche. Most recently in the Olympics, John Tavares tore his MCL and meniscus, while playing for Team Canada. The team on Long Island has not been able to catch a break as of late, but tonight’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs was a breath of fresh air. The Islanders were able to defeat the Leafs 5-4 in Overtime, and played with tenacity and energy all night. Where did this surge come from?
The Islanders called up Anders Lee, Ryan Strome, and Mike Halmo this week to play for the big club. All three players stood out to me tonight on the ice, and each did something productive to help the team come out on top. Strome looked like a different player from a month ago, and he showed off his playmaking skills on the dish to Lee behind the net who was able to squeak it by Jonathan Bernier to tie the game at four.
Halmo looked pretty solid out there as well. He made a nice pass behind his back through his legs in front of the net to Casey Cizakis, who was not able to get enough on the shot to score. Halmo did not look out of place at all, despite this being his first game in the NHL. I think he could be good checking for the Islanders going forward.
The player that stole the show was Lee. He was able to score two tying goals in the game for the Islanders, and played with a confident demeanor for most of the game. I am excited to see Lee play over the next 20 games or so because I think he is the real deal. Lee has the size and the toughness to be a scorer in the NHL, and could develop into a Kyle Okposo-type player if he continues to work on his skating and stick handing. The Islanders are off until Saturday and will look to build on tonight’s win against the Devils.
The young kids seized the moment tonight for the Islanders, and I hope Head Coach Jack Capuano keeps putting them in meaningful game situations. This experience is going to pay dividends to their development going forward.