The New York Islanders capped off a relatively successful and busy week on Saturday night with a convincing 5-1 win over the New Jersey Devils. In a matter of a few games we went from a five game losing streak to a two game winning streak and renewed hopes for some Isles fans.
John Tavares took matters into his own hands, netting a hat trick for the Isles. His three goals came of different varieties, proving how valuable and versatile he is. The goals gave him 11 on the season, bringing him to a tie with James Neal for the league lead in goals.
It was a strong effort from the Islanders, who did a better job of getting the 2nd and 3rd chances in on Johan Hedberg, who has been brilliant against them in recent games. Evgeni Nabokov shut the door on some Devils chances that an improved Isles defensive structure allowed. But overall, they did a much better job.
Of note is the improved play by Mark Streit, who seems to have some burden lifted off of him with the arrival of Lubomir Visnovsky. It's no coincidence that these events are directly related. With everyone able to get more manageable minutes, everyone will be more effective and the Islanders will allow less chances via defensive breakdowns.
Kyle Okposo still looks out of sorts a bit, but did show some improved board play. That's one step in getting him back on track, but the real question will be at what point does he show us even more? At some point, improved board play from earlier in the season won't cut it.
Perhaps ironically enough, the Islanders big win over the Devils comes on the same day the New York Post published a report about Charles Wang potentially looking for a buyer for the team.
There's been a lot of talk in the past year over the future of the franchise, and with the team set to move to Brooklyn, the talks of him selling seem to have intensified. We'll take this one with a huge grain of salt however - the Isles have denied the report, and the Raine Group did not return comment.
We have been pretty vocal on the show about our thoughts on the matter, and the point still remains. It is unusual for a team to operate in the manner the Islanders have these last few years, with cost cutting around every corner imaginable. It is entirely possible it is in advance of looking to move the team to different hands. We'll see what comes out over the next few months, but this story may only be worth keeping one eye on.
SUNDAY'S SHOW: We are still having some issues with the podcast site, as we mentioned at the opening of today's show. But we hope to get it up and running early this week. For those of you interested in the recorded video cast of the February 17th show, be sure to check out the UStream page.