On their best run in franchise history, Thomas Greiss and the Islanders packed their bags for the California road trip. Out west, things did not go too well.
The Islanders played a strong, complete hockey game in San Jose on Saturday, Nov. 23 but Martin Jones was ready. He made 27 saves in the contest and Logan Couture sent the Islanders on a sad flight to Southern California.
Two days later, John Gibson sought an encore. He also stunted the blue and orange and a 17-game point streak came to its bitter end.
Things only got worse in Los Angeles. Poor goaltending, shaky defense and a questionable penalty plagued the Islanders and for just the for the first time all season, New York lost three games in a row.
The Islanders currently sit in second place in the Metropolitan Division with 34 points in just 23 games.
The team’s division-title odds steadily improved during their recent 17-game point streak. As per MyTopSportsbooks.com, they drifted around +690 in late October to roughly +175 currently.
That said, they remain second to the Capitals (around +120) and certain predictive statistics (like PDO and Fenwick) suggest a downturn is coming.
Tonight, the Islanders can take a huge step in preventing that downturn when they battle the Columbus Blue Jackets. The game is slated for 7 p.m. puck drop at Barclays Center.
Columbus took the red-eye flight to New York following a 5-2 win over Pittsburgh last night. The Blue Jackets sit at a respectable 11-10-4 after losing Artemi Panarin, Matt Duchene, Sergei Bobrovsky and Ryan Dzingel this offseason.
Last time the Islanders battled the Blue Jackets, the point-streak was just getting started. Playing a game mainly in their own end, Barry Trotz took a timeout and went on a monumental tirade, igniting the team and fanbase. After that moment, the Islanders won seven straight matchups and embarked on a 14-game point streak.
Jordan Eberle and Anders Lee will look to rewrite their struggles against a Metropolitan Division foe. Eberle has yet to score a goal in 13 games while Lee has five goals in nearly double the contests. The pair make a combined $12.5 million after signing new contract extensions last offseason.
Offense has been plentiful this season, a key difference from last year’s team. On Wednesday, Derick Brassard’s 17th point ended a 104:07 scoreless drought and continued success from him will do wonders for the Islanders.
Thomas Greiss will get the start in net tonight. His 2.15 goals against average is good for fifth in the NHL and his .930 save percentage is not far behind at sixth. Robin Lehner, Jaroslav Halak and Greiss, the three goaltenders that have guarded the crease for the blue and orange the last half decade, are all top-10 in the major netminder statistical categories (all statistics as of Nov. 28).
With Greiss in net, a Thanksgiving dinner behind them and a clean slate, tonight will be a great test to see if the Islanders can continue their dominance and start a new streak.