NHL Rink Wrap: Islanders limp to end of road trip

NHL Rink Wrap: Islanders limp to end of road trip;
Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images
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Top players from Tuesday in the NHL

Jason Robertson, Stars

To understate things, it’s been a bumpy start for the Dallas Stars. It’s never great when your head coach gives the “Don’t panic!” speech.

But don’t assume Jason Robertson’s been a letdown. Instead, Robertson missed some time; Tuesday represented merely the eighth game of his 2021-22 NHL season. Robertson put up his best game of the year, scoring two goals and one assist.

With that, Robertson has nine points in eight games. Turns out, you tend to miss a player who at least temporarily added some drama to Kirill Kaprizov‘s Calder chase.

Trevor Zegras, Ducks

The Anaheim rookie continued his rookie season with his fifth and sixth goals of the season as the Ducks edged the Capitals 3-2 in overtime for the franchise’s 1,000th victory. Zegras ended things for the home side with the overtime winner and captain Ryan Getzlaf recorded his 1,000th NHL point in the win. Getzlaf is now the 39th player in league history to record 1,000 points with one franchise.

Highlights from NHL on Tuesday

Read up on Kevin Hayes paying tribute to his brother Jimmy in this post. Here’s the goal, Kevin Hayes’ first of the season (in his second game):

Here’s Getzlaf reaching the 1,000-point mark with this assist:

The Ducks’ hot start hasn’t just been about promising young players like Troy Terry. Getzlaf’s had a nice season so far, in his own right.

Early on, injury updates for Aleksander Barkov seem positive. We’ll see, though, after Scott Mayfield was ejected for this knee-to-knee hit on Barkov:

[UPDATE: Barkov won’t need surgery and is considered “week-to-week.”]

Tuesday’s NHL takeaways

Islanders’ merciless road trip comes to a merciful end

Any time you want to ask, “What’s wrong with Team X?,” take a look at Team X’s schedule. At least if that team’s struggles are unexpected. After doing so, you might get some added insight. Maybe they’ve played a bunch of back-to-backs. Perhaps their schedule is especially unkind.

People roll their eyes at such explanations. Yet, considering the parity of the NHL and the small margins between victory and defeat, those factors can add up.

Honestly, even if you’re still rolling your eyes … you kind of have to give the Islanders a little leeway, right? A 13-game road trip is believed to be the second-longest in NHL history; the Islanders’ previous franchise-high was a nine-game trek in 2016-17. (Despite a respectable 5-3-1 mark in that one, they missed the playoffs.)

Either this 13-game road trip especially wore on the Islanders lately, or they’ve simply played poorly. It’s likely a combination of those factors. After a rough 6-1 loss to the Panthers, the Islanders are on a four-game losing streak. During that time, they were outscored 19-4.

Losing is bad enough for a team that was one and two wins from Stanley Cup Final appearances the past two seasons. Getting scored on is even worse, and very Islanders-like. While losses like Monday’s defeat to the Lightning were exaggerated by empty-netters, it’s still been ugly.

So, the end of that 13-game road trip is a relief for the Islanders. That said, their upcoming schedule could still be a headache.

Ultimately, a 5-6-2 start is disappointing for the Islanders, but it could have been worse. Maybe they got some character-building and bonding out of the way early?

A rebound for Dubois, and Jets may just have Oilers’ number

The Oilers entered Tuesday’s game against the Jets as one of the top (and hottest) teams in the NHL. One game won’t change that. But Winnipeg once again got the best of Edmonton.

During that surprising sweep, the Jets often did just enough to beat Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and the Oilers. This one was different. After going up 1-0 in the first period, the Jets took off in the second, scoring three more times against the Oilers. That 4-0 lead teetered after Draisaitl and the Oilers’ power play made a push, but the Jets won.

Pierre-Luc Dubois scored one of those second-period goals, giving him nine already this season. Nine goals matches Pierre-Luc Dubois’ tough 2020-21 season split between the Jets and Blue Jackets (nine goals, 21 points in 46 games).

With that goal, Dubois continues to produce at a point-per-game pace (15 points in as many games). Considering that Dubois’ career-high is 61 points — and he’s otherwise peaked at 49 — this is quite the promising development. Expect his shooting percentage to sink, but this remains a positive development.

(It’s promising for his bank account, too. His $5M cap hit expires after this season, setting up Dubois for a nice raise, even as a pending RFA.)

Wednesday’s big story

Could Avalanche give change-averse Canucks a push?

Is it surprising or predictable that reports indicate that the Canucks aren’t expected to make big changes like firing Jim Benning?

In this post, PHT broke down the difficult situation at hand — including the mess Benning’s already made. That same post noted that many Canucks fans or media members took a “believe it when we see it” approach to any talk of Benning being out. They likely don’t feel great if they’re indeed right about this (assuming they want Benning out).

That said, we’ve also seen ownership groups flip-flop abruptly. And we also don’t know if replacing Travis Green would count as a “drastic change.”

So, the Canucks are a developing story — each loss could bring more questions. Even by those standards, Canucks – Avalanche will be something for the NHL to watch on Wednesday. It’s a home game, and the Avalanche boast the sort of firepower to pull off a blowout. Fans tend to boo a lot during those. Sometimes they wear paper bags with sad faces. They might be inspired to chant for a firing or two.

Philadelphia Flyers v Vancouver Canucks
Wearing a Flyers jersey, but making the “right face.” (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

Tuesday’s NHL scores

Maple Leafs 3, Predators 0
Panthers 6, Islanders 1
Rangers 3, Canadiens 2
Flyers 2, Flames 1 (OT)
Sabres 2, Penguins 1
Coyotes 3, Blues 2
Sharks 4, Wild 1
Jets 5, Oilers 2
Stars 5, Red Wings 2
Hurricanes 4, Golden Knights 2
Ducks 3, Capitals 2 (OT)

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.