New York Islanders Face Tough Test With Early Season Road trip
Photo courtesy of Bruce Bennett / Getty Images
By Christian Arnold (CA_NYHockey)
Road trips are never easy for any team. Playing five games on the road over eight days makes it a bit more challenging, but that’s what the New York Islanders face starting tonight in Toronto against the Maple Leafs.
The team will quickly hop on a flight to Boston right after the game for a contest with the Bruins on Friday. They’ll take on the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday nigh, before returning to division play when they’ll take on the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday and finish the road trip in New Jersey against the Devils.
In a shortened season these road trips mean more for the Islander because a bad one could already diminish a teams playoff hopes. Somehow the Isles managed to get two of these five game road trips, with second one scheduled for the final five games of the regular season.
“It’s going to be a really big week for us,” Captain Mark Streit told Islanders TV after practice Wednesday. “Tough games in Toronto and Boston back to back to start and we need to play some good road hockey. Obviously play well defensively and use our speed as well and get some wins.”
Last season the Isles wen 1-1 at the Air Canada Center and 1-2-1 overall against the Leafs. The Leafs have also been know to get a few calls go there when playing against the Isles. Most notable was last season when John Tavares got a stick to the face from Joffery Lupal and Tavares was called for a dive.
The leafs come into the night, fresh off a win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, who before last night were undefeated.
The Bruins will be another tough conference foe to face and playing them on short rest will make the task much harder. The islanders only beat the Bruins once in the 2011-12 season. The win came on the road for the Islanders. The Bruins currently stand first in the Eastern Conference with a 2-0-1 record and they’ll have had a day’s rest when the Islanders get to Boston on Friday.
The Islanders will take on the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday night before finishing the road trip with two division rivals in Pittsburgh and New Jersey.
The finally two games will not be easy ones, not that any of this trip was, but the Islanders have traditionally struggled against the Penguins in their building. It was only last year they finally won in Pittsburgh since December 21, 2007. And the Penguins look like a Stanley Cup contender right out of the gate this season.
The Devils have looked sharp too. They defeated the Islanders at the Nassau Coliseum 2-1 on opening night and shutout the Philadelphia Flyers On Tuesday.
“It feels like we’re going to be playing New Jersey every other game the first few weeks,” John Tavares told Islanders TV. “Obviously we finally won in Pittsburgh last year and I know that was nice to get that monkey off our back. It’s a great challenge, one of the great premier teams in the league, some of the best players in the world on that team, so it’s going to be a tough test.”
“We know two divisional opponents, and all these inter-conference games, are always good rivalries, good tests and I think we’re ready for the task.”