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2016-2017 Season Breakdown: Tampa Bay Lightning vs. New York Islanders

The battle of the 91s.

Tampa Bay Lightning v New York Islanders Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Opponent:

New York Islanders

Did the New York Islanders hurt or help the Tampa Bay Lightning this season?

I’d say the Islanders just kind of sucked last season, but they were neck-and-neck with the Bolts in the playoff race, so maybe it’s more that we both sucked but the Bolts hit the Islanders at exactly the right/wrong time, all three games. But did the Islanders help us?

Hello, we took the New York Islanders out behind the pond and beat the CRAP out of them this past season. THEN we took their lunch money. Look at how our hard-hitters did in November against the Islanders:

Kucherov: 7 points (4G/3A)

Stamkos: 7 points (2G/5A)

Hedman: 4 points (4A)

And what’s that you ask about SV%? It’s so ridiculously good that it’s almost like Andrei Vasilevskiy and Ben Bishop had little manuals about each New York Islanders player that they knew by heart. I’ll just move that right here:

November 1, Bishop - .963 SV%

November 10, Vasilevskiy - .969 SV%

November 14, Vasilevskiy - 1.000 SV%

Still, if there’s any team that reminds me of ourselves, it’s the Islanders. I mean, they’ve also got a guy with 91 on his jersey that has necessitated the writing of an article entitled, “The Complete Encyclopedia of John Tavares telling the Toronto Maple Leafs to get lost,” or, “A handy compendium of all the times Islanders captain John Tavares has politely told the entire province of Ontario that he wants to stay with the team he’s with right now thank you very much.”

I remember the 2015-2016 season fondly, before Kyle Okposo decamped to the Buffalo Sabres, before Steven Stamkos was sidelined by injury, and when both teams played some fiercely competitive hockey against each other. That didn’t happen last season, but the Bolts managed to defeat the Islanders whenever they needed it most, including the biggest victory, the first game against them of the season.

That game was a slump-buster, the result of several players’ and coaches’ meetings. In the words of Nikita Kucherov:

Duemig: Well, it seems like - so you did get into a players’ meeting and just talk things out?

Kucherov: Yeah, we talked a lot. We had some meetings. The coaches showed us video about the Rangers and what we have to improve and how we have to play better. I think everybody understood. We’re here to play hockey and enjoy it and win the game, as much as we can.

Duemig: [Steven] Stamkos said everybody has to be accountable to each other, and to the team as well. Was that something that was discussed too - supporting each other and accountability?

Kucherov: Yeah, definitely. Stammer said the right thing. We’re here and, as he said, accountable - I think it’s a good word for that.

Perhaps this was the first of many times last season that Kucherov sternly remind his teammates to play hockey instead of collect paychecks?

Words from the opposition, Lighthouse Hockey’s Dan Saraceni:

“The funny thing about last season's Lighting-Islanders playoff series is that, to my eyes anyway (and I'm too tired to look up the stats), the Islanders played better against Tampa than they had against Florida in their previous series, which was essentially won by John Tavares and Thomas Greiss alone. But against the Lightning, the Islanders couldn't close out a talented, playoff-tested team, got wiped out quickly and were left with a bunch of question marks. So coming into this season, I felt there was, maybe not a rivalry with the Lightning, but at least a sense of the Islanders needing to show they wouldn't be pushed around or some other macho crap like that.

“So what happened? A season sweep so horrifying, so demoralizing and so complete that it defies belief. The Islanders were thoroughly and embarrassingly demolished in each game against the Lightning. None were close. At no point did it look like the two teams were playing the same sport, let alone had, only months before, played against each other in a second round playoff series. But don't take my word for it, take his:

“I'll never forget those words as long as I live. As it happens, I was actually at that final 4-0 horse-whipping with my friend and Lighthouse Hockey colleague Michael Willhoft, and as we sat in the upper deck of Barclays Center (and yes, the sightlines were fine because we know where to sit), we were speechless as our guys got run off their own ice with boos and jeers raining down. We left that game CONVINCED that we had watched Jack Capuano's final game as Islanders coach and that he'd be fired by the time I reached the Port Authority Bus Terminal. The ‘Fire Cappy!’ chants were heard clear as day, and reminded me of the ‘Mike Must Go!’ chants of the bad old days of Nassau Coliseum in the 1990's. That game felt like the nadir of what had been a disastrous start to the season.

“But Cappy wasn't fired until almost two months later, in mid January. By that point, the Islanders had just barely started to climb out of the deep, deep hole they had dug for themselves during the first 30 games. Once Doug Weight took over, the team finally hit their stride and played well enough to just barely miss the playoffs by one lousy point. Just like the Lightning. It's eerie.

“I still have no idea how Tampa missed the playoffs because the team I saw in three games against the Islanders looked like friggin' world beaters. Guess it was just their competition making them look good.”

Awww Dan. :( I hope your team is good again soon.

Games:

November 1, 2016: Tampa Bay Lightning 6, New York Islanders 1

Preview by @waffleboardsaveLightning at Islanders preview: The never-ending road trip finally ends tonight

“Can things get any uglier than they are right now for the Bolts? We’ll find out tonight. But consider the following:

  • In this three-game losing streak, they’ve scored three goals while giving up 12.
  • During this stretch, Jason Garrison and Andrej Sustr are a team-worst -6.
  • They’re also 1/11 on the power play, and their face-off wins have been at or under 50%. Both areas have been consistent issues with this team.
  • Outside of three first-period goals against Toronto on Oct. 25 on the Lightning have not scored any other first-period goals. Saying they’re starting slow is an understatement right now.
  • Sunday’s loss against the Rangers was the worst regular-season loss since Oct. 19, 2013, when they dropped a 5-0 decision against the Bruins.

“Anton Stralman said there was ‘no defensive awareness’ that led to all the odd-man rushes against the Rangers. He also said ‘everybody's kind of on their own page.’ Ouch.”

Recap by @geofitz4De Haan knocks out Drouin and the Lightning take revenge, embarrassing the Islanders 6-1

“The Lightning came out with some energy to start the game. They were helped by all of the penalty trouble that the Islanders got into in the first period. The Lightning ended the game with 36 shots on goal and allowed 27. Fifteen of the Islanders shots came in the third period and the game was pretty much out of reach at 6-1.”

November 10, 2016: New York Islanders 1, Tampa Bay Lightning 4

Preview by ... I can’t find our preview for this game.

But did you guys see this weird tweet from that gameday? #fakenews:

Recap by @ClarkJBrooks — Lightning get complete effort, beat Islanders 4-1

“It would be hard to ask for much more than what the Lightning offered against the Islanders in this one. No deficit to come back from, top line scoring, two power play goals, a perfect penalty kill (albeit, that’s easier to do when you only commit one penalty) and a spectacular effort from goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, stopping 31 of 32 shots he faced.”

November 14, 2016: Tampa Bay Lightning 4, New York Islanders 0

Preview by @GeoFitz4 — Luke Witkowski recalled to Tampa Bay, Adam Comrie recalled to Syracuse

“Losing Stralman for any length of time is a big blow. The defensive corps past Hedman and Stralman starts to get shaky. Sustr has been competent, but is a fringe top 4 defenseman that would be better on the third pair. Garrison is a low end top 4 guy, as he has slipped a bit over the past couple seasons. Coburn used to be a top 4 player, but now has settled in as a third pair player. Koekkoek has a future as a number 3 defenseman that could spot on a top pair, but he hasn’t reached that ceiling yet. Nesterov is a fringe defenseman that can work on the third pair, but the team is more comfortable with him being in the press box. Witkowski is a depth player that is best suited for the AHL and needs to be protected on the third pair in the NHL.”

Recap by @GeoFitz4 — Vasilevskiy stonewalls undisciplined Islanders in a 4-0 shutout victory

“It only took 42 seconds for the Lightning to find the back of the net once again. Hedman picked up the puck from Point who was battling along the board. The puck hit an Isles defender and came out towards Sustr who was at the right point. Sustr moved in and slapped the puck at the net from the top of the right circle. Seeing Sustr moving for the puck, Callahan moved in front of Halak to provide a screen. The puck went in off of Callahan. Sustr was credited with the lone assist on the goal.”

Trades:

Just the future one that sends Tavares’ rights to Toronto. (JUST KIDDING DON’T KILL ME DAN SARACENI.)

Boxscore:

Goals: Stamkos (PPG 1, 1), Kucherov (PPG 2, 2), Johnson (PPG 1), Boyle (2), Brown (SHG 1, 1), Filppula (1), Callahan (1), Namestnikov (1)

Assists: Johnson (1), Namestnikov (1), Hedman (4), Stamkos (5), Palat (1), Paquette (2), Killorn (1), Koekkoek (2), Kucherov (3), Callahan (1), Filppula (1), Coburn (1), Sustr (1)

Save Percentage:

November 1, Bishop - .963 SV%

November 10, Vasilevskiy - .969 SV%

November 14, Vasilevskiy - 1.000 SV%