Anthony Beauvillier

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Joshua Ho-Sang a healthy scratch for Islanders opener

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Interesting lineup decision for New York Islanders coach Dough Weight when his team opens the 2017-18 season on Friday night.

Forward Josh Ho-Sang, one of the team’s best young players, will be a healthy scratch when the team hosts the Buffalo Sabres.

Veteran forward Jason Chimera will be in the lineup in his place.

Weight has said this preseason he is not afraid to give ice-time to the team’s younger players, and to an extent that seems to be true as Matthew Barzal and Anthony Beauvillier will both be in the lineup on Friday.

The fact that Ho-Sang is the odd-man out, though, is a little surprising given how strong of a preseason he had and how promising he looked last season in his limited look with the big club, recording 10 points and a 52 percent Corsi rating in 21 games while also playing an extremely exciting brand of hockey.

The 38-year-old Chimera played in all 82 games for the Islanders a season ago scoring 20 goals.

Defenseman Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock are also healthy scratches for the Islanders on Friday.

Halak and the Islanders defeat Penguins, move into wild card spot

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Quite a hockey game between the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday.

It offered plenty to enjoy — Phil Kessel‘s dominant but unfruitful shift in overtime, a combined 86 shots on goal between both teams, a showcase of skill from the likes of John Tavares and Sidney Crosby, and two strong goaltending performances from Jaroslav Halak and Marc-Andre Fleury.

Josh Ho-Sang, who wears No. 66, which is just fine in the eyes of Mario Lemieux, set up Brock Nelson‘s goal in the second period.

The Islanders and their fans probably aren’t hung up on style points at this juncture of the season. They just care about wins and points in the standings, and those are exactly what New York accomplished with a 4-3 shootout win in Pittsburgh.

Anthony Beauvillier and Tavares scored for the Islanders in the shootout. Halak made 37 stops, including a game-saver in overtime off Matt Cullen. Halak trapped the puck, which was right on the goal line, between his legs on a chance from in front. The play was reviewed but no goal.

The win gives the Islanders 82 points, which is the same total as the struggling Boston Bruins.

However, the Islanders, with one game in hand on the Bruins, take over the final wild card spot in the East for now.

Islanders shut out Canadiens for huge road win

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Overall this season the New York Islanders have really struggled away from the Barclays Center, a point of concern when you consider how many road games they have down the stretch as they try to overcome their miserable start to climb back into the playoffs.

Their current nine-game road trip is off to a promising start with wins in the first two games, including a 3-0 shutout win over the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night to improve their record to 12-4-2 under new coach Doug Weight.

The Islanders received goals from Anthony Beauvillier, Anders Lee and John Tavares in the win, while Thomas Greiss stopped all 24 shots he faced to record his third shutout of the season.

With the win the Islanders hold sole possession of the second wild card spot in the East for the time being, two points ahead of Florida and Boston (the Bruins are in action right now) and continue their stunning second half turnaround.

But while things are going great for the Islanders right now, the struggles in Montreal continue.

With their loss on Thursday they failed to put any extra distance between themselves and the rest of the Atlantic Division that has suddenly closed the gap on them. They remain just two points up on Ottawa and only four points ahead of Toronto. The loss also continues what has been a particularly brutal stretch over the past couple of months that has seen the team win just seven of its past 20 games.

It’s probably too early to start fully panicking in Montreal, but given the way the end of last season went this can’t be a promising development for Canadiens fans.

Capuano firing puts focus on Snow

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A coaching change is rarely made without management shouldering some, or much, of the blame.

Case in point, last year, Penguins GM Jim Rutherford admitted that he was partly to blame for his team’s struggles, “because I didn’t get the defensemen that were necessary to have more movement from the back end.”

But Rutherford fired Mike Johnston anyway, and we all know where Mike Sullivan led the Pens, with some help from his GM.

Today, Jack Capuano was fired after a lengthy run as the head coach of the New York Islanders. And while there was certainly a case to be made for the move, GM Garth Snow will not, and should not, escape blame. The Isles’ roster is littered with underperformers, and it starts with Andrew Ladd, the team’s big offseason acquisition.

Halfway through the season, Ladd has just eight goals and four assists. He also turned 31 in December and is signed through 2022-23 for a cap hit of $5.5 million. 

Nikolay Kulemin is another aging, overpaid winger. So is 37-year-old Jason Chimera (or at the very least, he’s aging). For some reason, Cal Clutterbuck got a five-year, $17.5 million extension. He hits a lot, sure, but he only has three goals in 40 games. Meanwhile, Nino Niederreiter, whom the Isles traded to get Clutterbuck, has turned into an impact player for the Wild.

And we haven’t even mentioned the goaltending situation, which remains in flux. Thomas Greiss has been the Isles’ only good netminder this season. Greiss is also a 30-year-old pending unrestricted free agent who will undoubtedly be looking for a raise.

Now, do the Isles have some good, young prospects? Yes, they do. Mathew Barzal, Kieffer Bellows, Anthony Beauvillier, Michael Dal Colle, and Josh Ho-Sang all have real potential.

But management and ownership have a major task ahead of them in re-signing John Tavares, who can become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2018. So far, the captain has said he wants to stay. But with just 24 playoff games on his NHL resume, he’s also said he wants to have success.

“I think for myself, I’ve always shown and talked about my commitment here,” Tavares said recently. “Wanting to have success here and keep building on some of the good things we’ve done. Obviously, this [low] point’s been disappointing.”

It was reported back in December that the club’s new owners, Scott Malkin and Jon Ledecky, had been searching for a “big name” to run the team. The Isles denied the report, but it immediately set off speculation about Snow’s future.

Don’t expect that speculation to die down now that Capuano has been shown the door. Snow was actually asked today if he thought his job was safe.

“I don’t even worry about that,” he told reporters.

It’s beyond his control anyway. All he can do now is hope for a miraculous turnaround. The Isles start a six-game home stand Thursday. They’re currently dead last in the Eastern Conference, eight points back of the second wild-card spot.

“We need to turn this ship around,” said Snow, “and I really have a lot of confidence in our coaching staff and in our players.”

Of course, he’s said that before.

There will be changes to the Isles’ lineup, ‘no doubt about that’

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Expect to see some changes to the Islanders’ lineup when they play tomorrow at Florida.

Isles coach Jack Capuano was none too pleased with a number of his players during last night’s 2-1 loss to the Panthers in Brooklyn.

“There are guys that will be out of the lineup next game, no doubt about that,” Capuano said, per the New York Post. “It’s the accountability of the coaching staff to do what they have to do.”

Of note, veteran winger Jason Chimera logged just 9:45 of ice time and didn’t register a shot.

Shane Prince didn’t have a great game either. The 24-year-old winger hasn’t registered a shot in his past two games.

Capuano didn’t name names, but there were clearly others who didn’t make the grade. The coach was especially upset with the second period, which saw the Isles outshot, 16-6, and outscored, 1-0.

“We had some guys who should’ve stayed in the room,” said Capuano, per Newsday.

Anthony Beauvillier and Stephen Gionta were the healthy forward scratches last night. One or both of them could be inserted tomorrow.

Read more: Isles place Travis Hamonic on IR, recall Scott Mayfield

It remains to be seen if the Isles will, at some point this season, look to AHL Bridgeport for reinforcements. Youngsters Josh Ho-Sang and Michael Dal Colle are both down there, though neither has put up eye-popping numbers. Ho-Sang has three goals and 13 assists in 29 games. Dal Colle has eight goals and seven assists in 33 games.

Related: Isles sign Gionta