Forgive the New York Islanders if they’re not exactly looking forward to the upcoming National Hockey League All-Star Break.
Teams that have generated positive traction don’t often want to surrender it.
“Overall it was a good road win, especially coming off a bit of a layoff, and it will be good if we can carry this momentum forward,” John Tavares told reporters following Friday night’s 5-2 win over the Ottawa Senators in Kanata, Ontario, Canada.
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Entering Monday’s first half finale against the Red Wings, the Islanders have won six of ten, and are one point behind the equally hot Rangers for second place in the Metropolitan Division.
Dating back to the 6-3 win over the Maple Leafs on Dec. 29 at the Air Canada Centre, the Islanders have outscored opponents 34-36. Deeper examination reveals the Islanders have outscored opponents 26-22 in their eight January games.
According to the website war-on-ice.com, the Islanders are ranked 14th in the NHL with a 50.2 percent Corsi For percentage, and their 49.0 percent Fenwick Close is tied with Columbus and Florida for 14th in the league.
Corsi and Fenwick are analytical statistics which measure puck possession through shot attempts. Corsi counts shots on goal, shots blocked and missed shots; Fenwick tallies shots on goal and missed shots.
“We did a good job coming out of our own end, something that’s been better for us lately, and it gives guys up front some time to make some plays and create some room. I thought we had a pretty good first period and eventually it paid off,” Tavares said after the win over Ottawa.
One of the players that has been vital to the Islanders’ play-making is Ryan Strome. The fifth overall pick in the 2011 Draft has five goals and 12 assists for 17 points in 35 NHL games this season. Since being recalled from AHL Bridgeport on Nov. 26, Strome has four goals and eight assists for 12 points in 23 games.
“When you play with elite players, you’re getting the other team’s best and you have to be tough to play against, every shift, every game,” Jack Capuano told Newsday about Capuano. “I think Ryan realizes that now.”
Storm believes he has regained confidence since Capuano has placed him on a line with Tavares and Mikhail Grabovski.
“I think I’ve gotten a little of my swagger back. Playing with [Tavares and Grabovski], we’ve generated a ton of chances and we frankly should have a few more goals,” Strome told Newsday. “It’s just about the consistency game to game and I think I understand what it takes.”
Due to Winter Storm Jonas, the Islanders’ home game Saturday against the Flyers was postponed, and a makeup date has not yet been scheduled.
You can follow NHL writer Denis P. Gorman on Twitter at @DenisGorman