The New York Islanders come off a two-game winning streak to face a long 12-day pause. This break is because the league has postponed teams from cross-border games. The Islanders just faced the Edmonton Oilers and would need to cross back through the border into the United States to face the Seattle Kraken, which is why that game is now postponed. Following that matchup, New York was set to head back into Canada to face the Vancouver Canucks and Oilers once again, but those games are now postponed as well.
Islanders Set to Head Off On 12 Day Break
After the Islanders’ last matchup against the Oilers, Anthony Beauvillier had this to say about the time off ahead of them, “It is what it is. It’s been a weird season for everyone, right? So, we’re just going to take the time off if we don’t have any games and make the most of it, I think. Just get ready, get prepared, get stronger, I mean, it’s really all we can do, and we got to take it the right way, and we’re going to take advantage of this time that we have and keep working on our game.”
The way the Islanders have played the past couple of games shows improvement from where they were back in Nov. and Dec. 2021 when they had their 11-game losing streak. After a four-game cancelation at the end of Dec. 2021, New York returned to take the 4-1 win against Buffalo and then rang in the New Year with another tough OT win against Edmonton.
It could be predicted that Beauvillier’s words hold true, and the Islanders are still hard at work in these coming days up until they face New Jersey on Jan. 13. However, another one of the issues the Isles face is losing players to COVID protocol.
According to Sportsnet, there is frustration about the length of time that a player is in COVID protocol. Some of the players want the league to reduce the 10 day quarantine period, however with Canada’s restrictions so tight currently, this does not seem feasible. Doing so would give the Islanders back some of their lineup, and the break ahead of them would give those players time to get back into the swing of things.
However, with that not being the case, the Islanders have to make do with what is ahead of them. Currently, players Brock Nelson and Kyle Palmieri got cleared to practice. This is definitely a sign in the right direction for New York.
Time Off Can Bring More Recovery for New York
Just coming back into the lineup for them was Mathew Barzal, who proved stellar against Buffalo, where he gained three points from a goal and two assists – not to mention the countless scoring opportunities he created for his team. After having brought Barzal back from protocol, it would work in New York’s favor to have this time to recover all or most of their players back from off the protocol list. This would provide for them a more full and strengthened team when facing the New Jersey Devils, who have won their past five games in a row.
“This is a real good opportunity for us, you know we’ve had guys in and out of the lineup, and with COVID or with injuries or whatever, this is a good chance for us to get healthy and press forward because we know it’s going to be a real sprint to the end for starters,” stated associate coach Lane Lambert following the Islanders win in Edmonton.
For now, there is going to be a lot of anticipation to see how the Islanders come back on Jan. 13. Since they finished with a win, many fans hoped to see the momentum continue and for their team to rise back into the standings.
“It is what it is,” stated Anders Lee, “You don’t have much control over that kind of thing. You know you try to get into a rhythm, you try to get things going, and it’s starting to feel good and string a couple together, but this is what is presented with us and the schedules that are in front of us a little bit.” Lee went on to be optimistic and mentioned using the next couple of days as an advantage for his team.
It appears as if the coaching staff and players agree that this time off will be used as a blessing to help the team not only get stronger but also recover.
Bellows Proving To Be A Force
Kieffer Bellows has proved himself the last two games as he recorded a combined goal and two assists. He could very well fill in the holes that were made from players missing in the lineup as he’s stepped up his presence on the ice and shown his potential.
Looking at his overall stats this season, he was slow to put some points up for the Isles but has used his playing time lately to make more happen. “I think Kieffer has been on a slow and steady burn where he’s taken on the challenges that we’ve given him,” stated coach Barry Trotz. “I pull him out of the lineup sometimes with some of our lineups with the older guys, but he’s making a case for himself.”
I wouldn’t bet on Bellows being the main player that Trotz throughs out onto the ice in a given need, but he is slowly gaining speed and, in time, could be on the list of strong forwards for New York.
“I said to him when he gets to be a more veteran player, a guy that’s played more games, you got just to play well every time that you’re in there, bank some good cred, and when you do, can’t take you out of the lineup,” added Trotz.
New York Post’s Ethan Sears referred to Bellows as the unlikely hero against the Sabres as he recorded a goal and assist in helping the Isles reach their 3-1 lead as the game progressed (“Kiefer Bellows Propels Islanders Past Depleted Sabres,” New York Post, 12/30/21). In addition, Sears stated how Bellows’ performance lately could lead to him keeping his ice time as more players return into the lineup. In agreement, I believe he could very well see lots of ice time in the future, but I also think he still has a lot riding on him, and two top games are not going to be enough to cement him just yet.
The Islanders’ progress in their time off will be showcased against the Devils in the next coming days. As with Bellows status on the team, this could also be a game that proves helpful for him to further showcase his capabilities and why he is a much-needed player in the lineup.
I started writing for my college hockey team at UMass Amherst three years back and have since started my own hockey blog covering a variety of teams from NHL to college and World Juniors. This blog got ranked #44 out 70 best hockey blogs on the internet by Feedspot.com. Since then I also got the opportunity to cover the New York Islanders with IslesFix (previously called IslesBlog) and have now began writing for The Hockey Writers also covering the New York Islanders.