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Postgame Mailbag: Islanders Grind Their Way to 3-1 Victory Over Blackhawks

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New York Islanders forward Brock Nelson celebrating his goal agaisnt the Chicago Blackhawks (Photo courtesy of New York Islanders Twitter)

The New York Islanders did not play their best game of the season but did enough to get their fourth straight win as they beat the Chicago Blackhawks by a score of 3-1 win. Here’s your NYI Hockey Now postgame mailbag.

Rapid Recap: Islanders, Shorthanded, Win Fourth Straight, Defeat Blackhawks 3-1 (ENG)

Pretty boring game, but these were the kind of games they won prior to last year that led to playoffs. Some games, you just grind through, grab 2 points and move on to the next one. (@jonj77):

A win is a win, and at the NHL level, there are no such things as easy wins. The Chicago Blackhawks may have been on a three-game skid, but they were not being blown out over that stretch, losing one in overtime and one in a shootout. 

I spoke with Ross Johnston after the game, who said that the Blackhawks are a good team and that they came out of the gates flying in the second period.

The Islanders had to weather that storm and found a way, thanks to Ilya Sorokin and their defensive-zone structure. 

There was a lot not to like in the contest, but when you are not at your best, and you still find a way to score in big moments and keep the puck out of your own net, that’s a positive sign. 

You referenced Friedman’s 32 Thoughts and isles reps at VAN. But if Isles keep finding ways to win, do you think Lou will take his time on a move? Or does he pounce early? Also, wouldn’t LD3 be a priority at this point over a winger? I’m sure my thoughts on that will change in a week. (@jonnywax)

Just so people understand what I’m about to discuss, here’s the article on what Elliotte Friedman said on the latest ’32 Thoughts’ podcast.

Islanders Chat on 32 Thoughts: ‘They Can Now Breathe a Little Bit’, Scouts in Vancouver?

Now that you are caught up, I don’t believe the New York Islanders scouts being in Vancouver has anything to do with J.T. Miller, who they tried to acquire on day 1 of the 2022 NHL Draft.

New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello always says that he’s always trying to make the team better.

Could the Islanders be looking at a forward like Conor Garland or maybe a defenseman like Tyler Myers, despite him being right-handed? I would think the priority is defense, but we will see how the forwards continue to play as the season progresses.

I think, given the winning, Lamoriello has time on his hand to make a more beneficial decision.

Aho looks pretty bad. Wondering if we could see Bolduc with the Isles at some point this season. (@@DavidMoss21)

Sebastian Aho is such an interesting player. In the win over Chicago, he made a handful of really smart players behind his own net, in the neutral zone, but then there are times when he makes rookie mistakes, throwing the puck around or being too soft in transition with his passes.

Samuel Bolduc is having a strong start to his season in the AHL with one goal and nine assists in nine games, but Robin Salo would get the chance to go back in if Lambert believes Aho needs to sit.

But Aho has done a solid enough job, and I think it’s important for Scott Mayfield to have a consistent defenseman to his left. The belief is that Robin Salo will eventually take the reigns when Lambert believes he is ready.

With Bolduc entering this season after dealing with an injury in 2021-22, there should not be any rush to call him up.

Why bench Wahlstrom? (@JacobTalksIsles)

Oliver Wahlstrom took three shifts in the third period but did not see much action in the final half. 

As we have seen so far this season, when the games are tight, New York Islanders head coach Lane lambert has mixed up his lines in an effort to shut the door. He’s double-shifted players often.

The Islanders took two penalties in the third, and Oliver Wahlstrom does not play on the penalty kill.

I personally did not think that Oliver Wahlstrom had a particularly good game. Besides his questionable decision-making, he did take an offensive zone penalty in the second period. So if he was not used later in the third, it’s likely because Lambert went with players that he trusted to close the game out. 

Some may call that benching. I would not. I would call it trying to win a hockey game. 

His 8:40 TOI is a bit skewed as Lambert chose him to serve the Casey Cizikas major penalty (5 minutes).

How would you describe the system the Islanders are playing now compared to the one under Trotz in 2020? (@Deplorable1619)

The New York Islanders played very structured in their own zone under head coach Barry Trotz. The offense they would create would be because of the plays they would make in their own zone, along with a strong transition game. Under Lane Lambert, the Islanders are staying with a strong defensive-zone structure, but instead of sitting back in the neutral zone or leaving the offensive zone quickly to get back when the puck is not on their stick, we are seeing a more aggressive structure.

Defensemen are holding their ground at the Islanders’ blue line, and forwards are not evading the offensive zone, but rather hugging the walls near the offensive blue line. We have seen them, whether it be forechecking hard or hugging the walls, which have led to extended offensive zone time and more goals.

NYI Hockey Now Stories: 

The New York Islanders notched their fourth-straight victory as they defeated the Chicago Blackhawks by a score of 3-1. Brock Nelson scored his fourth in three games as the Islanders are now 6-4-0 on the young season. Rapid recap HERE.

New York Islanders forward Casey Cizikas was ejected and given a five-minute major for goaltender interference which injured Chicago Blackhawks netminder Alex Stalock. Then later in the period, Andreas Athanasiou ran into Islanders netminder Ilya Sorokin as tensions flared. Replays HERE.

Ross Johnston was back in the lineup on Tuesday night in place of Matt Martin, who is with his wife as they are expecting the birth of their second child. Here’s an interview we conducted with Matt Martin and Ross Johnston regarding their relationship HERE.

The Bridgeport Islanders, who won yet again on Tuesday (via a shootout) are now 6-1-1 to start the young season. Bridgeport head coach Brent Thompson earned his 300th career AHL win, as he is also the longest-tenured AHL coach at 10 seasons. His forward Ruslan Iskhakov was named AHL Player of the Month, as threw seven games this season, the Russian and former UConn forward has four goals and seven assists. Story on him when he signed his ELC back in May HERE.

On Monday, after practice, I asked New York Islanders head coach Lane Lambert why he believed his team could play a more aggressive game. He said he had confidence from the start and that he knew the group since 2018. He knew the skill was there. I then went and talked to a handful of players, from each position, to get their take about the uptick in offense. Lambert and player thoughts HERE.

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