"The Islanders are getting better by the day." - Robert "Butch" Goring, 4/2/2013
On Tuesday night, Islanders announcer "Butch" Goring said what many of us have felt for a very long time. The young Islanders are improving.
A quick look at the National Hockey League's Eastern Conference standings confirms this. The New York Islanders are currently in possession of a playoff spot (8th).
Coming off a big 3-1 road win against New Jersey, the team immediately ahead of the Isles in the standings, on Monday, the Islanders needed a win against Winnipeg on Tuesday (4/2). And they got it.
Prior to the tilt, the Islanders hadn't won the back end of consecutive games this season in five tries. They also hadn't gotten a victory out of any goaltender other than Evegeni Nabokov.
The team broke both of those unenviable streaks against the Jets with a 5-2 win. Kevin Poulin won his first game of the season, recording 23 saves.
Matt Moulson broke a streak of his own, scoring a goal after a 13 game goal-less drought. And get this, young Anders Lee, the 2009 draft pick from Notre Dame, scored on the first shot of his NHL career.
"I'm just trying to enjoy it and soak it all in," said Lee after the game. When media legend Stan Fischler asked him if he belongs at this level, he added, "I think so."
So with everything suddenly going right for the Isles, there was one more bit of pleasant news delivered: Ryan Strome, Garth Snow's 2011 first round draft pick, reportedly scored on his first professional shot at Bridgeport. He had a goal and an assist in his game, and many Isles fans are salivating over soon seeing his talents on display with the top club.
As for the immediate future, the Islanders will try to keep the good feelings rolling and improve their playoff standing on Thursday (4/4) night in Washington, D.C.
As Frans Nielsen opined after the Winnipeg victory, "[There are] still a lot of points we have to play for."
But make no mistake, the optimism surrounding this team is growing by the day.