Welcome to Drive4Five’s monthly mailbag. In this new segment, we will answer any question posed to us this past week. You can always submit questions to @drive4fiveblog. All you have to do is DM us with a question and specify that it is for the mailbag. You can ask us about anything Islanders or NHL related. Happy asking!
@jaketheneverlandpirate_ Do you think we should acquire a goaltender if Halak keeps struggling?
I’m curious as to why this question is posed directly at Halak when both he and Griess have similar stats. Halak is 5-4 with a 3.05 GAA and .898 save percentage. Griess is 5-2-2 with a 3.37 GAA and a .902 save percentage. Those numbers will get a team nowhere come playoff time. When it comes to the goalie situation, however, there’s not much we can do in the trade market. I know it’s radical but Carey Price could be on the move from Montreal, although he may not end up in New York unless John Tavares goes the other way. Cam Ward may be another trading option, being that he is a UFA this offseason and the Hurricanes have goaltending prospects that they would be willing to call up, but he is no better than Halak or Greiss. Halak is also a UFA this offseason himself, so to see him end up on a team such as the Maple Leafs or Flames, both of whom need better backup goaltending, is not out of the realm of possibility. Unfortunately, there just aren’t enough options to justify trading away one of two solid goaltenders. Let’s just hope they turn their games around and play much stronger hockey for the rest of the season.
@7.eberle Do you think Michael Dal Colle is a bust?
Unfortunately, he just might be. MDC has 5 points in 13 games played with the Sound Tigers this year. He’s been a healthy scratch in multiple games and only has one goal. He hasn’t seemed to find a place on any of the Tigers four lines this year. Keep in mind, however, that Dal Colle is still only 21 and has some time to find his game again. I can see him getting called up to the NHL sometime this year if there’s an injury. It could be that call up that changes things for him. Again, much of that 2014 draft class is still developing, we just expect more out of Dal Colle because he went fifth overall. He’ll play in the NHL eventually and will be a solid second or third line player, but probably not the player we expected him to be.
@johnnyd044 If the Islanders make the playoffs, who do you think they will play against?
To our somewhat pleasant surprise, our division is the second in the NHL thus far. New Jersey leads it with 25 points, and although Pittsburgh is tied with them and sits in second, they have played three more games than the Isles and have a -15 goal differential, not very impressive for the defending Stanley Cup Champions. The Washington Capitals are weaker without Williams, Alzner, and Shattenkirk, and the Rangers are suffering without Stepan. If the Islanders want to win their division, or at least come in second place, this is their year. The last thing we need is to have a weak end to the season and play Tampa Bay in round one. I think Columbus will come out on top in the Metro. They’re the division’s most complete team and Bobrovsky is playing very well this season. I think the Islanders will secure the second spot in the division and will play Pittsburgh in the first round. Although this means home ice advantage, it also means Sidney Crosby.
@drive4five Who is the third best center in the NHL after McDavid and Crosby?
Yes, I know this was a question of the day, but it’s a good one and it deserves explanation. First, we must define the role of the center. He is usually the one taking faceoffs, getting back defensively, and setting up his teammates in the offensive zone. He is truly a 200-foot player. He is not just someone who mercilessly puts up points. When a player does that, he becomes pre-Barry Trotz Alex Ovechkin, who was always criticized for his defensive play, even though he scored 50 goals per season. That’s why I believe that the third best center in the NHL right now after McDavid and Crosby is Auston Matthews. To be fair, he isn’t far off from Tavares. Matthews is known for his outstanding shot. He scored 40 goals as a rookie last season, and already has nine in 16 games this year. His corsi stats are impressive, with the Leafs controlling the puck 56% of the time when he is on the ice. He also created 30 of his 40 goals last season, and increased his +2 last year into a +14 so far this year. He’s also winning faceoffs, averaging about 50% in both the offensive and defensive zone, combined. Tavares is not far behind. He created 26 of his 28 total goals last year, and in addition to having a decent +/-, plays on both the power play and penalty kill. His corsi stats are also impressive, but still slightly less than Matthews’. I give the distinction to him over JT because he is younger, giving him the opportunity to grow even more, and become so much better than Tavares that in five years, it’s not as close. Very tough question to answer and can go either way in all honesty.
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