While most of the “hot team” talk has been devoted to the suddenly surging New Jersey Devils, the New York Islanders have made a similar push, winning five of their last six games en route to a 7-3-0 record in February. The Isles will look to continue that trend this afternoon against the visiting Florida Panthers. Here’s what to watch for when the puck drops.
A New Addition?
Earlier this season New York unsuccessfully tried to wrangle G Evgeni Nabokov to the island, but the goalie refused to honor his contract. They would likely have more luck with Souray who is looking to escape the minors and show NHL teams he has plenty left to offer. Not to mention the Islanders could use a defenseman with a booming slap shot to help run their power play. Add in that Souray’s $4.5 million salary over the remainder of this season and the next is now halved due to the re-entry waivers process and he could make a very appealing target for GM Garth Snow. Time will tell.
Look, Isles fans. It’s the future! The offense has been red hot lately for the Islanders, with New York putting up three or more goals in all but one game this month (a 3-0 loss at Pittsburgh on Feb. 2). During those 10 games the tandem of Michael Grabner (formerly of the Panthers) and John Tavares have combined for 15 goals, 10 by Grabner. The recently re-signed Matt Moulson has chipped in with 6. Seeing the team’s young talent playing to their potential has got to be encouraging.
Who Is That Masked Man?
Al Montoya recorded just his second career NHL shutout when he blanked the Los Angeles Kings Saturday, his second strong outing for the Islanders since coming to the team. (His first was a 37-minute relief effort in a 6-3 loss to the Boston Bruins.) Montoya now flaunts a .954 save percentage in NHL action this season and should get the nod this afternoon, though I haven’t seen a starter reported yet.