By Jack Fenty
After back-to-back embarrassing losses to the Washington Capitals on Thursday and Friday nights the Islanders 2017-2018 playoff hopes are officially done. A team that had so much promise in the beginning of the season; with a top five offense in the NHL. Players such as Tavares, Lee, Bailey, Eberle, and rookie Mathew Barzal were leading the explosive Isles offense, but lack of depth and horrendous defensive and goaltending play has led to a total collapse. The Islanders currently sit last in the Metropolitan division with a record of 30-31-10. Sad! So now the question is what should Isles fans watch for in the last month of the NHL regular season.
1. Mat Barzal
The future Calder Trophy winner is the top reason to watch the horrendous Islanders for the rest of the campaign. Barzal is one of the quickest players I have ever seen play the game, he skates with ease and moves the puck like no other. Barzal has a stat line of 19 goals and 52 assists so far this season; an impressive score-line for a guy on a crappy team. Now the part no Isles fan wants to hear…Mat Barzal will be the face of the franchise and the Isles number one center IF John Tavares walks at the end of the year; a big task for the then being 21-year-old. Hopefully Tavares does not walk, and we can see a 1c and 2c combo of JT and Barzy for years to come. Something else to look for the rest of the way is Barzal and JT playing on the same line together; Doug Weight put the two together Friday night and they created immense offensive pressure in the Capitals zone for most of their shifts.
2. John Tavares
I hate to be this guy, but could these be the final games of seeing John Tavares in a New York Islanders jersey? Once again, I hope not but the way this season has gone it is hard to be confident that JT will be in the orange and blue trim next season. On that note I will watch the remaining games just incase this is the last we see of the Islanders “savior” in the orange and blue uniform.
3. Calgary Flames
The Islanders currently hold the Flames 2018 first round draft pick. Therefore, Isles fans should desperately pray that not only the Flames miss the playoffs, but they finish as low in the standings as possible. The Islanders could be looking at two top 12 draft picks in the upcoming entry level draft. This is also a very solid draft class so the lower the two picks are the better! #TankFlames
4. Watch the young guys
It has not happened yet, but I would expect the Islanders to call up some young players from the Bridgeport Soundtigers to play some games in the NHL in the coming stretch. Some names to keep an eye on are Josh Ho-Sang, Michael Dal Colle, Scott Eansor, and Mitche Vandell Sompel. These guys are the top “prospects” within the Isles organization right now, so it would not hurt to give these guys a look with the big club. Within the team now I would like to see Aho play every night; there is no reason for him to not be playing over someone like Hickey. Another player I would like to see on the ice is Christopher Gibson; Gibson had a tough game against the Caps Thursday night but played well in the previous games before that. Halak and Greiss have not played well over the entire season and nothing is going to change this late in the game, might as well give Gibson some opportunities. It cannot hurt.
Overall, it stinks to be in the position once again but for us Islander fans we are used to it at this point. #SnowMustGO #FireWeight
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