Continue Epic Nine-Game Trip in Dallas on Thursday Night
By John Torenli, Sports Editor
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Islanders had four long days to lick their wounds following last Saturday’s brutal 7-0 loss in Columbus.
"Clearly we were pretty off," team captain John Tavares confessed after New York had its three-game winning streak snapped and fell to 2-1 on its epic nine-game road trip through several time zones.
"What was disappointing the most was that we didn't even give ourselves a chance with the way we competed,” Tavares added. “It wasn't even mistakes or poor execution. We made it so easy for them to play against. It's tough to explain now."
Despite the lopsided defeat, the Isles (29-22-10, 68 points) enter Thursday night’s tilt against the Dallas Stars just one point behind Toronto for the Eastern Conference’s final wild-card spot.
Isles starting goalie Thomas Greiss was chased from Saturday’s rout after the first period, surrendering three goals on 17 shots, before Jean-Francois Berube yielded the final four tallies against the red-hot Blue Jackets.
The loss was eerily similar to a 7-1 setback New York suffered at Barclays Center to Toronto back on Valentine’s Day, a defeat that denied the Isles sole possession of the conference’s coveted second wild card.
But New York rebounded quickly from that thumping, reeling off four wins in the next five games, including the first two on this franchise-record road odyssey, before Saturday’s no-show in Columbus.
The NHL’s trade deadline came and went Wednesday afternoon and the Isles made no trades, sticking with their current roster in pursuit of a third consecutive postseason appearance.
However, the team did make a move from within the organization, recalling 20-year-old forward and former first-round draft pick Josh Ho-Sang from the Bridgeport Sounds Tigers of the American Hockey League.
Ho-Sang, who played alongside fellow rookie Anthony Beauvillier during the preseason, has amassed 10 goals and a team-high 26 assists in Bridgeport thus far this season. But his attitude, both on and off the ice, has been questioned since New York selected him with the 28th overall pick in the 2014 NHL Draft.
Ho-Sang hopes to put all that behind him beginning Thursday night in Dallas.
“I’m excited with the changes I’ve made to get here,’’ Ho-Sang told Newsday on Tuesday. “On a personal level, I’m not really going to discuss all those [issues].
“I’m a better person now then I was three years ago and I think that everything happens for a reason. It’s helped me change a lot, make a lot of changes in my lifestyle which have been beneficial.’’
Ho-Sang will be filling in for injured forward Alan Quine, who will miss the remainder of the road trip, and could provide some scoring punch if interim head coach Doug Weight finds a spot for him on either the third of fourth line Thursday.
But most New York hockey fans were still wondering Wednesday afternoon if general manager Garth Snow would pull the trigger on a potential three-way deal that would land Colorado center Matt Duchene in Downtown Brooklyn.
The 26-year-old Ontario native serves as an alternate captain for the struggling Avalanche, leading the teams with 16 goals to go with his 20 assists through 56 games.
Duchene visited Barclays on Feb. 12, coming up empty despite four shots on goal in the Isles’ 5-1 victory over the Avalanche.
Snow opted to stay put and continue to let his young players develop alongside the Isles’ veteran core, but that decision will more than likely be made by upper management, which could overhaul the entire front office by next season.
In the meantime, the Isles will continue to chase the playoffs, something that seemed beyond their reach five weeks ago when they were middling around the .500 mark and fired long-time head coach Jack Capuano.
Isle Have Another: The Islanders are 12-5-2 since Weight replaced Capuano, and are 23-12-6 in their last 41 games overall. … Cal Clutterbuck has missed 15 of the last 20 games, including Saturday’s loss in Columbus, due to injury. … Former starting goalie Jaroslav Halak was involved in trade talks Wednesday afternoon as well, but remains with the team. The franchise’s all-time single-season wins leader went 6-8-5 in 21 starts this season before being waived, and ultimately shipped down to AHL Bridgeport on New Year’s Eve.