When the Islanders last played in the 718 area code, things were not looking too hot. Dropping five of six and going out to the West Coast, made even the optimistic fan start to wonder.
Now that the World Series ended, Panic City started following hockey and kept the same blue and orange colors.
But something happened as the Islander plane flew over the Rocky Mountains, the team became close and the won a few games. Two of three, in fact, while dropping a hard fought match in Los Angeles.
“It was nice to get away and find our games a little bit,” said left wing Kyle Okposo. “We played three games in four nights against pretty good hockey teams and we were able to find a way. It was good to get out. Long flights with the guys, taking and having some fun on the road. It was a good trip.”
Even better, because the Islanders got their grove back. And coming home to the Barclays Center, the Isles were able to continue the momentum by beating the Coyotes tonight, 5-2.
“It’s always tough your first game back,” said coach Jack Capuano. “I thought (Jaroslav Halak) gave us a really good chance to win the game tonight especially on the power play. He made some big saves for us. Our power play got us going tonight… I give credit to our guys they stayed focused and determined for 60 minutes.”
It’s that type of consistency the Islanders need if they are going to compete in the Metropolitan Division. This is a division with perennial playoff teams like the Rangers, Capitals and Penguins, leaving only one spot for the rest of the field. Even though, the Flyers, ‘Canes and Blue Jackets still trying to find their games, the Devils have been playing surprisingly well and it looks like they will be competitive all season.
“I think the division goes down to the wire in this division,” Capuano said. “You have some of the top goalies in the league in this division and there are a lot of good hockey teams. To me it’s one of the toughest divisions we are in but we have to stick to the game plan and move up the ladder.”
The Islanders should not be a bubble team. There’s just too much talent here and come March, they should be worrying about positioning and not if the golf course could be on the horizon.
As the season goes on, the Islanders should also get more accustomed to Barclays as well and use its uniqueness to their advantage. Since it is an intimate arena, it does get pretty loud on goals and when the crowd decides to boo Justin Bieber’s upcoming concert. For the Islanders sake, they should hope that the crowds will come to their side as the so-called seventh man for home games.
Make Barclays a tough place to play. Make teams worry when the Islanders are on the schedule.
The pieces are there and we can clearly see the Islanders fight adversity. They did it once already this season and there will probably be other times between now and April when they will have to bounce back.
The Islanders are not just Long Island’s team, but Brooklyn’s as well. With some attitude and backing, the Isles will take the next step.