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Islanders at the break: Pros, cons and a look ahead

The Islanders get back again to function on Thursday with practice following a put together eight-working day break from a bye week and All-Star weekend.

And they even now will be in 1st place in the Metropolitan Division when they confront the NHL-primary Lightning on Friday at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum. Here’s a breakdown of the place the Islanders stand with 33 video games remaining and the Feb. 25 trade deadline looming as they search for their 1st playoff berth since 2016.

Forwards

Execs: Mentor Barry has gotten well balanced scoring when rolling 4 strains with out stressing far too a lot about matching versus the opponent’s leading strains. Next-yr heart Mathew Barzal proceeds to improve his sport and has worked to make improvements to defensively. Fourth-line heart Casey Cizikas is obtaining his most effective period. A healthful Jordan Eberle’s generation has picked up of late.

Downsides: Left wing on Valtteri Filppula’s third line with Leo Komarov has been a little bit of a revolving door – rookie Michael Dal Colle now holds the spot – and their enjoy has suffered periodic dips as a end result.

On the horizon: The leading line of captain Anders Lee, heart Brock Nelson and Eberle are impending unrestricted cost-free agents, some thing that will be talked about with growing frequency primary up to the trade deadline. Left wing Andrew Ladd (injured reserve/reduced physique) is expected to enjoy again this period, although probably not until March. Josh Ho-Sang could be termed up again from Bridgeport (AHL) if he’s not traded or president/common manager Lou Lamoriello are not able to purchase scoring aid up entrance. The Senators’ Matt Duchene and Mark Stone and the Blues’ Brayden Schenn, all believed to be on the trading block, may be forwards who pique the curiosity of Lamoriello.

Defensemen

Execs: Johnny Boychuk, at 35, is playing healthful and it reveals as he’s solidified his spot on the leading pair with Nick Leddy. Scott Mayfield, in his third period, has taken a leap in improvement. Rookie Devon Toews, with his skating, stickhandling and electrical power-enjoy function, has speedily revealed he belongs in the NHL to keep.

Downsides: Adam Pelech, a lot greater of late, had 3 months of inconsistent enjoy. Leddy’s aim generation is down, although his improved defensive enjoy is a a lot more substantial beneficial.

On the horizon: Left-handed shooting Thomas Hickey (injured reserve/higher physique) could be completely ready to return in February, and furnished most people else remains healthful, that will drive Trotz into a lineup final decision. His return pretty much absolutely would appear at the expenditure of both Toews or Adam Pelech. The trade-deadline value for defensemen is always high, and the Kings just established a high bar by attaining a 1st-rounder, in addition forward Carl Grandstrom and the rights to protection prospect Sean Durzi for Jake Muzzin on Monday. The Hurricanes may glimpse to transfer Dougie Hamilton.

Goaltending

Execs: Robin Lehner went into the Islanders’ break primary the NHL in objectives-versus normal (2.02) and tied for 1st in preserve percentage (.931). Thomas Greiss has lowered his GAA from final season’s 3.82 to 2.50 and lifted his preserve percentage from .892 to .920.

Downsides: More like a nitpick but, if the Islanders make the playoffs, Trotz probably will have to at last select a No. 1.

On the horizon: Lehner, sober and with his mental-wellness difficulties less than manage, is on a make-superior, 1-yr, $1.5-million deal. He has reported he needs to function out a multi-yr deal with the Islanders and, at age 27, probably has established himself up for a 3- to five-yr deal in the community of $5 million yearly. Is Lamoriello completely ready to commit to Lehner long expression? At some stage, possibly not following period, Russian Ilya Sorokin will appear to North The us to enjoy.

Unique groups

Execs: The penalty kill is ranked 22nd in the NHL at 78.7 p.c but has saved numerous wins.

Downsides: The 24th-ranked electrical power enjoy (16.7 p.c) has sapped momentum at periods.

On the horizon: Ho-Sang, if he operates himself back again into the lineup, could make a good addition to the 2nd electrical power-enjoy device.

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