New York Hockey Check-In


Early on, the Islanders have struggled to replicate last season’s success, and the goalkeeping has not been of any help. (Courtesy of Twitter)

We are just under a month into this NHL season and all three local teams currently sit in the bottom half of their division. The Devils have 10 points (4-3-2) and the Isles and Rangers are tied with 10 points as well (4-4-2). Their rocky starts have been plagued by shaky goaltending, a lack of scoring and COVID postponements. Let’s get started down in Jersey with the Devils. 

The Devils got off to a nice start, but the last few weeks have been a struggle. After a 2-1-1 start, they lost two straight games to Philadelphia at home. They bounced back by beating Buffalo last Saturday, but the post-game from that was even worse. As of Thursday, the Devils have 14 members of the organization on the COVID-19 protocol list and are on hiatus through Tuesday, Feb. 16. New Jersey is not the only team that is battling through an outbreak right now, as Buffalo and Minnesota are also on pause for this week. 

While the Devils try to get back in action soon, they hope that second-year stud Jack Hughes keeps up his scoring ways. Through the first part of the season, he was near the top of the leaderboard in goals scored league-wide. Mackenzie Blackwood has been solid thus far and even Scott Wedgewood put together a good game against the Islanders in a relief effort. The Devils’ fault is that they simply are not very talented. They have some great young players like Hughes and Nico Hischier, but overall, they are not deep enough to put together a playoff-worthy regular season. 

The Rangers have been shaky, to say the least, coming out of the gates this season. They only have three wins and have been far from consistent. Both Igor Shesterkin and Alexander Georgiev have had good and bad games, and Alexis Lafreniere sits at only one point, a game-winning goal against Buffalo. 

This on-ice struggle would be easier to stomach if the off-ice drama went away. In a way, it kind of did when the Rangers placed defenseman Tony DeAngelo on waivers just months after signing him to a new contract. DeAngelo cleared waivers and was sent to the minors shortly after GM Jeff Gorton said he would never play for the Rangers again. It has nothing to do with his Twitter antics either, where he was known to support the former President Donald Trump and deleted his account in solidarity with Mr. Trump when his account was suspended. 

After an overtime loss to the Penguins, DeAngelo felt that Georgiev should have saved the shot that ended the game. Georgiev disagreed, starting a tussle in the hallway outside the locker room. Rookie defenseman K’Andre Miller stepped in to separate the two, but that was the last straw. DeAngelo has now worn out his welcome at three NHL organizations, Tampa and Arizona before New York, and it is hard to believe he will get a fourth chance. 

Finally, the Islanders looked to pick up right where they left off after a fantastic run to the Eastern Conference Finals this summer. They have not, with rookie goalie Ilya Sorokin struggling and the offense unable to support the goalies when they do have a good game. They needed a shutout and a batted puck to beat the Bruins 1-0, and besides opening night against the Rangers, they have not looked dominant. They had a few days off due to positive tests in the Sabres building last week and came out with a nice win against Pittsburgh on Saturday, and they now look to make that a winning streak against the Rangers on Monday. 

New York hockey has gotten off to a rough start, but it is still very early in this shortened season.