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New York Islanders

Nick Leddy: Closing Out Teams are the Hardest Games

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Brock Nelson and Nick Leddy

In a five-game series, things can change in an instant.

That’s what the Islanders are facing heading into Game 4 on Friday. The Islanders had a 2-0 series lead before Wednesday’s 3-2 Game 3 loss to the Florida Panthers. Now the Islanders are feeling the heat with Florida right back in the series now.

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“If you’re one game from being eliminated a lot of pressure is off of you, you can just go on and play,” Nick Leddy said on Thursday. “On the other end, it’s a lot harder. I just remember through the years those were the hardest games to close out a team out because they’re playing maybe a little stress-free.”

The Islanders find themselves in that position after failing to close out the series on Wednesday. The loss was punctuated by mental mistakes and a special teams unit that struggled.

The Islanders allowed the Panthers to go 2-for-5 on the power play and failed to convert on the man-advantage themselves. A too many men on the ice penalty and a delay of game after Semyon Varlamov played the puck outside the trapezoid resulted in goals against.

“I think in playoffs every mistake is magnified,” Leddy said. “Just trying to eliminate those as much as possible is huge. It’s a little different with no fans with the momentum, but I think if you can create that on the bench. If we do make a mistake try to get that momentum back as fast as possible.”

Friday’s gameplan for the Islanders will center around getting back to their game that was seen in Game 1 and Game 2. The focus will be on maintaining their strong effort during five-on-five play. According to Natural Stat Trick, the Islanders had high danger chances 65.96% of the time five-on-five, with an expected goals rating of 69.26%.

The only thing the Islanders struggled to do five-on-five on Wednesday was score. The Islanders had several chances in Game 3, including several odd-man rushes and sever shots that hit off the iron.

“We knew this was going to be a tough series,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. “We felt there was a lot of positives in our game, especially our five-on-five play. I felt we lost the game in a short period of time and we lost it in special teams. (Florida) made some adjustments in terms of what they’ve done.”

The Islanders could see some changes to their lineup on Friday after Trotz said there was a “high probability” of it. Trotz did not specify who could be impacted by the lineup changes, but it most likely would be a change in net.

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Bridgeport Sound Tigers

He’s Back! Josh Ho-Sang Returns to Islanders on 1-Year Deal

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Josh Ho-Sang

If you thought Josh Ho-Sang’s time with the New York Islanders was over, guess again.

The Islanders and Josh Ho-Sang came to terms on a 1-year contract extension on Tuesday and avoided an arbitration hearing which had been scheduled for Friday. The short-term deal is worth $700,000 if he plays in the NHL and $200,000 if he ends up in Bridgeport, according to Elliotte Friedman who first reported the news on Tuesday morning.

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Ho-Sang has had a rocky history with the Islanders since the organization drafted him 29th overall in 2014. The now 24-year-old forward has struggled to crack the Islanders lineup and his outspoken nature has often caused himself headaches.

Josh Ho-Sang requested a trade last season and was told by Islanders general manager not to report to AHL Bridgeport while they worked to find a place to send him. The naturally skilled forward did end up reporting to Bridgeport after the Islanders failed to move him and they eventually loaned Ho-Sang to St. Louis’ AHL team in San Antonio.

Ho-Sang has appeared in 53 NHL games with the Islanders and registered seven goals and 17 assists in that span.

Both the Islanders decision to send Ho-Sang a qualifying offer and then Ho-Sang’s decision to file for arbitration surprised many people. Lamoriello sounded perplexed several weeks ago when he was asked about it during a media conference call on Zoom.

“I’m sure you’re all aware that he filed for arbitration, which I was very surprised at,” Lamoriello said at the time. “We’ll have to see what the future brings.”

It’s unclear what role the Islanders envision for Ho-Sang going into next season.

In addition, the Islanders also announced that A.J. Greer had signed a one-year contract as well. Greer was acquired from the Colorado Avalanche in a trade that saw the Islanders send Kyle Burroughs to the Mile High City.

Greer had been a restricted free agent.

Fellow RFA defensemen Mitch Vande Sompel and Parker Wotherspoon signed two-year contract extensions on Tuesday as well.

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Free Agency

What Will Mat Barzal’s Next Contract Look Like? | NYHN+

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Mat Barzal of the New York Islanders

It is the question that is on every New York Islanders fans’ mind. When will Mat Barzal be re-signed by the Islanders and what will that contract look like?

The 23-year-old Islanders star is due for a pay raise and the team is under a major cap crunch at the moment with just $8.9 million left for next season to work with to re-sign Barzal, fellow restricted free agent Ryan Pulock and possibly some unrestricted free agents. The NHL’s flat salary cap for the foreseeable future also throws a rather unique twist into the already complicated Barzal equation.

Right now the Islanders priority is clearing cap space so that they can work out a deal with Barzal. As has been reported here and various other outlets, Johnny Boychuk, Nick Leddy, Andrew Ladd and Leo Komarov are all contracts that could be moved to free up space.

The Case for the New York Islanders to Sign Anthony Duclair

All of those carry a sizable cap hit and general manager Lou Lamoriello needs to clear at least one or two of those to have some wiggle room to work. That is what has held up the rest of the Islanders offseason plans, including re-signing their most valuable piece.

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Hockey Night in New York

PODCAST: Taking Your New York Islanders Questions

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New York Islanders podcast Hockey Night in New York

In addition to covering the New York Islanders here at NYI Hockey Now, I co-host a weekly radio show and podcast called Hockey Night in New York, with Sean Cuthbert. The show airs live every Sunday night at 9 p.m. and is available on all major podcast platforms immediately after the show ends.

This week on Hockey Night in New York, Sean and I took listener questions on everything from the depth of the prospect pool in Bridgeport to should the New York Islanders look at breaking up the “best fourth line in hockey.”

You can subscribe to the show on Apple Podcasts here or follow us on Spotify here.

Welcome to your new home for New York Islanders breaking news, analysis and opinion. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and don't forget to subscribe to NYHN+ for all of our members-only content from Christian Arnold and the National Hockey Now network.
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