After beginning the week on a four-game winning streak, the New York Islanders have now won seven in a row and remain the hottest team in the NHL. After three days off to begin the week, the Islanders finished with three wins in four nights with victories over the Arizona Coyotes, Ottawa Senators and the Philadelphia Flyers.
For a team that has really been hurt with injuries, it got worse this week as they lost both Matt Martin and Tom Kuhnhackl for the next 4-6 weeks. They only have 12 healthy forwards on their roster, but continue to have guys step up, as we look at the three best players from this past week.
Third Star: Mat Barzal
After getting off to a slow start this season, the Islanders’ young superstar, Mat Barzal, has been red-hot and continued that into this week with a goal and two assists. He scored the fifth goal for New York on Sunday after he raced in alone on a breakaway. He also helped set up Derick Brassard earlier this week and then Anders Lee on Sunday. He leads the team with five goals and five assists.
What has also stood out has been his two-way play, as he is doing a much better job of helping out in the defensive zone. The Islanders coaching staff has really liked his improvement in that area and have floated around the idea of putting him on the penalty kill to give him even more ice time.
Second Star: Nick Leddy
It has taken some time, but it sure is nice to see Nick Leddy contributing in a big-time way with the Islanders. After a couple of sub-par seasons battling injuries and such, Leddy sure looks like he is back to his old form after his phenomenal performance in the Islanders win over the Senators on Friday night.
Originally credited with a hat-trick, Martin was later awarded the goal after his deflection in front of Anders Nilsson. In any event, Leddy had two goals and an assist in his best game of the season with one of them coming from a penalty shot.
While the Islanders finally seem to have a couple of impact defensemen in Ryan Pulock and Devon Toews, Leddy is a bit under the radar this year, but should still be able to produce big-time numbers especially on one of the power plays.
First Star: Derick Brassard
Despite playing on the third line for much of the start of the year, Brassard was one of the few additions to the team, replacing Valtteri Filppula. It was a bit of a slow start offensively, but Brassard finally broke out with a goal in three straight games. He scored a little over a minute in on Thursday and then had goals against the Senators and Flyers for his first three with his new club.
Another element that Brassard brings to the Islanders that they haven’t had in quite some time is his ability to win faceoffs, though he has been playing on the wing of late with the injury bug continuing to bite the Islanders.
He also has been playing on the power play, as the team has had lots of success despite their lack of opportunities. Also, now that he plays on the second line, he tends to be out against opponents top forwards and not only has been strong defensively, but he has also brought a lot of offense this week.
Up next, the Islanders will have another long break in their schedule, as. they have four days off before to recover their matchup with the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday, Nov. 4 at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. It is the second time in the past two weeks they have had an extended break. Other than the bye week later this season, this will be the longest break in the schedule, as the Islanders look to keep their winning streak going.