Weight: Islanders need to ‘lose the frailty’ with big games ahead


It turns out that Brandon Carlo‘s gaffe didn’t mean all that much during Tuesday’s game between the Boston Bruins and New York Islanders, aside from costing Tuukka Rask another shutout. Jordan Eberle seizing the opportunity translated to the Isles’ lone goal in a 5-1 loss.

Such a defeat continues a downward trend for the Islanders; they’ve now lost three straight with a combined score of 15-4 and are just 5-9-2 since Dec. 1.

To hear head coach Doug Weight explain it, this boils down to getting tougher.

“We have a good team and I told the guys that,” Weight said. “You’re going to go through these things. It’s time for our group to lose the frailty. We have to come out of this. We have to come out fighting and put in a great, gritty effort tomorrow.”

The Islanders face what is likely to be an equally motivated and frustrated Flyers team in Philadelphia on Thursday, but their upcoming stretch is about more than that game:

Thu, Jan 4 @ Philadelphia
Fri, Jan 5 vs Pittsburgh
Sun, Jan 7 vs New Jersey
Sat, Jan 13 @ NY Rangers
Mon, Jan 15 @ Montreal
Tue, Jan 16 vs New Jersey
Thu, Jan 18 vs Boston

As you can see, the next seven contests all come against Eastern Conference teams, with the next four all featuring Metropolitan Division foes. Interestingly, they’re heading into a back-to-back and three games in four nights, while they’ll get almost a week off after Sunday’s game against the Devils. Theoretically, the Islanders could dig deep for those three games and then recover before facing the Rangers.

Weight admits that a stretch like this “could change your year.”

Beyond, um, “frailty,” what is troubling the Islanders right now? Let’s look at a few things.

  • Their power play slowed down: In six games from Dec. 13-23, the Islanders scored a power-play goal in every contest, generating eight on the man advantage during that stretch. During the last four games (three losses), the Islanders haven’t scored a power-play goal, going 0-for-15. They’ve allowed three power-play goals in those four games. That’s not a debacle, but when things aren’t clicking, every lost advantage stings.
  • Goalies continue to struggle: Jaroslav Halak was better in December than November, but that’s a small victory since he only had a .906 save percentage that month. His struggles continued into the first game of 2018. Thomas Greiss has been, at times, disastrous. Otherwise, he’s just been mediocre in 2017-18.
  • Brief struggles for top guns: Mathew Barzal is on a three-game pointless streak, and he didn’t generate a single shot on goal during Tuesday’s 5-1 loss to Boston. John Tavares hasn’t scored a point in the past two games, and sports an ugly -6 rating during that span. He only generated three SOG in those two contests.

It’s foolish to worry too much about Barzal and especially Tavares, as even the best players endure a tough run or two (perhaps Barzal is more vulnerable to a longer slump, as he’s still only played 42 games in the NHL somehow).

Special teams success can come and go, too.

The real concern remains consistent, even if Weight is probably wise in not hammering this point: the Islanders simply need more from Greiss and Halak. Both have track records of being good-to-great goalies, and even if you’d argue that the Islanders play a double-edged sword style that might put netminders in tough spots, they have to be better than this.

With all of these games coming up against teams in the competitive, congested Metro, this would be the perfect time for those goalies to get it together.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Bruins set NHL record with 12 straight home wins to start season

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
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BOSTON — The Boston Bruins set the NHL record for most home victories to start a season with their 12th straight, topping the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 in overtime with a power-play goal from David Pastrnak.

The Bruins broke the mark of 11 that was set by the 1963-64 Chicago Blackhawks and equaled by the Florida Panthers last season.

“That felt awesome,” Bruins first-year coach Jim Montgomery said. “We talked about it after the second (period) going into the third. There’s been a lot of great teams in this league and you’re able to set a precedent, break a record. It’s pretty special and it doesn’t happen if those guys don’t believe in themselves like they do.”

Boston, which trailed 2-0 late in the second period, tied it with 9:33 left in regulation when David Krejci scored his second of the game on a shot from the right point.

“It’s never fun being down going into the third, you’re sitting in here (in the locker room) trying to figure it out,” Krejci said. “You want to come out and do the job, something special on the line. It’s hard to win in this league. To get 12 in a row at home is pretty special.”

In overtime, Carolina was playing shorthanded after being called for too many men on the ice when Pastrnak one-timed a pass from Brad Marchand inside the far post from above the left circle.

“It was a big win for us, obviously, coming from behind,” Pastrnak said.

Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Stefan Noesen each scored a power-play goal for Carolina, and Pyotr Kochetkov made 38 saves. The Hurricanes lost their fifth straight.

In a rematch of last spring’s opening-round playoff series that the Hurricanes won in seven games, Carolina shutout the NHL’s highest scoring team for nearly two periods and jumped ahead a pair of power-play goals in the opening period.

“We took too many penalties. That’s hurting us right now,” Kotaniemi said. “I think 5-on-5 we’re doing a really good job. We started good tonight and couldn’t keep that up.”

Boston’s tying goal was originally disallowed because of goaltender interference on Nick Foligno but overturned on a coach’s challenge after it was ruled that he was nudged into the crease by Carolina defenseman Brett Pesce.

Boston starting goaltender Linus Ullmark made 28 saves but had to leave with 13:03 left in the third period with an undisclosed upper-body injury. Teammate Connor Clifton had jumped on him to block a shot during a scramble. Jeremy Swayman made six stops in relief.

Carolina’s Noesen scored at 6:34 in to make it 1-0. And with five minutes left in the period, Kotkaniemi collected the puck near the side of the net after Seth Jarvis‘ shot bounced off the back glass and slipped it inside the post at 15:05.

Krejci scored for Boston with 31 seconds left in the second.

Boston came in with a league-high 82 goals in 20 games (4.10 per game), but it was held to relatively few chances despite getting a 5-on-3 power-play advantage early on.


The Bruins honored captain Patrice Bergeron, who recorded his 1,000th career point when the team was on the road against Tampa Bay, with a message on the Jumbotron. The crowd gave him a standing ovation.

Bergeron became just the fourth Bruin to reach the mark, joining Hall of Famers Ray Bourque (1,506), Johnny Bucyk (1,339) and Phil Esposito (1,012).


Hurricanes: Host the Calgary Flames.

Bruins: Host the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Predators postpone 2 games due to Nashville water main break

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

NASHVILLE, Tenn. —  The Nashville Predators postponed two home games because of a water main break that soaked their downtown arena.

Hours after the Predators decided they couldn’t play against the Colorado Avalanche, the team announced it also postponed the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Makeup dates for the two games will be announced later.

The NHL said the water main break that occurred “significantly impacted the event level” of Bridgestone Arena. Team locker rooms and the ice surface are on the event level.

Predators President and CEO Sean Henry told reporters that the water in the event level ranged from 3 inches to 3 feet.

“We’re assessing it right now. We’re remediating it,” Henry said. “The good thing is, the water got shut off, the city responded in a pretty fast manner. I don’t think anyone is ready for things like this the Friday after Thanksgiving.”

Video posted by a WTVF-TV reporter shows the water puddled up on the main floor’s concourse area and the team store. The team was forced to close the store until further notice, pointing shoppers online for Black Friday specials.

The Predators’ next home game is now scheduled for Tuesday against the Anaheim Ducks.

The water issue also resulted in a switch to a different venue for a college hockey game between Northeastern and Western Michigan. They also had been scheduled to play at Bridgestone Arena, a game that was moved to Ford Ice Center Bellevue.

Rangers trade Ryan Reaves to Wild for 5th-round pick in 2025

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

ST. PAUL, Minn. — The New York Rangers traded enforcer Ryan Reaves to the Minnesota Wild for a 2025 fifth-round pick.

Reaves had been a healthy scratch for eight of the past 12 games for the Rangers. He gives struggling Minnesota some extra muscle and a veteran presence.

The 35-year-old is signed through only the rest of this season at a $1.75 million salary cap hit. He has no points and 12 penalty minutes in 12 games of his second season with New York.

Reaves has played in 869 NHL regular-season and playoff games for the St. Louis Blues, Pittsburgh Penguins, Vegas Golden Knights and Rangers. He was with the Golden Knights during their inaugural season in 2017-18 when the reached the Stanley Cup Final.

Toronto’s Morgan Rielly placed on long-term injured reserve

Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

TORONTO — The Toronto Maple Leafs placed defenseman Morgan Rielly on long-term injured reserve with a knee injury.

Rielly was hurt in a collision with with New York forward Kyle Palmieri early in the third period of Toronto’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Islanders at home.

Rielly has no goals and 16 assists in 20 games this season and is averaging 23 minutes of ice time.

Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said following practice that the 28-year-old Rielly doesn’t need surgery, adding there’s no firm timeline for his return beyond the minimum 24 days and 10 games required for going on long-term injured reserve.

Toronto’s defense is also missing Jake Muzzin with a neck injury and T.J. Brodie with an injured oblique.