Sunday, November 3, 2013

Two Big Wins And Okposo Passes 200!

Just when it looked as if the New York Islanders were slipping back into their old (i.e. bad) habits, they secured two huge wins.

After the clatter over the controversial Thomas Vanek trade died down, the Isles went back to work on the ice. Despite trailing by two goals at two different times on the road in Ottawa, New York secured an important victory on Friday (11/1) night.

Besting Ottawa in the shootout not only did wonders for the team in standings, but also gave them a psychological boost.

It was the first night that the newly acquired Vanek looked comfortable on the top line and in a new system, and it also settled fears among some fans that Garth Snow's bold transaction would fail.

Fast forward to Saturday (11/2) night, when the Isles battled both the Boston Bruins and a vocal minority of fans rooting for the visiting team in their own arena.

Jack Capuano decided to rest his usual starting goaltender, Evgeni Nabokov, in favor of young Kevin Poulin.

It's a move that Jack needs to make more often, and without trepidation.

Poulin has been solid when called upon, and he was again on this night, deflecting 26 of Boston's 27 shots in a 3-1 regulation win.

Both John Tavares and Vanek scored in the contest, with Vanek first setting up Tavares' goal at 6:15 of the second period. Vanek's goal, incidentally, was his 500th point in the National Hockey League, so congratulations to him.

Congratulations are also in order for Kyle Okposo, who assisted on all three of the night's goals (Andrew MacDonald scored the 'sandwich' goal). He surpassed the 200 NHL point plateau, and his 13 assists this season leave him in third place in the league in that category.

Unlike so many games in the past against the Bruins and Senators, what turned these games in favor of the Isles was a complete defensive effort and a high number of shots on goal. The latter was especially true against Ottawa, when they peppered Robin Lehner with 57 shots.

With Lubomir Visnovsky sitting out, the Isles had been lacking somewhat on defense. They have certainly picked up their game of late, though, and need to continue doing so.

It will be back to the grind on Tuesday (11/5), as the Isles visit our nation's capital. Washington sits just a solitary point behind the Islanders for second place in the Metropolitan Division, so it will be no time to let off the gas pedal.

They will, however, have a few days to savor this weekend's conquests and celebrate some individual achievements.