Set to face the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center on Friday night, the Islanders are feeling positive, and they should.
The Islanders have earned points in 9-of-11 games against Western Conference opponents this season, going 5-2-4. That stat line is just one of many reasons the Islanders are working their way up the standings.
"We’re getting more and more confident as a group defensively," said Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic
. "That’s carrying over to games and it’s making a big difference."
The Islanders special teams have been rock solid. In the last eight games, the Islanders have allowed just one power play goal against for a 93.3 percent success rate. In the last six games, they've scored on 50 percent of their power play opportunities (7-of-14).
Goaltender Evgeni Nabokov
has also been a key factor in this turnaround. Not only has the Isles netminder led them to three straight victories, he’s recorded a 2-1-0 record against Western Conference opponents this season. He's made six straight starts, and could receive his seventh Friday night.
The Ducks are just one of three teams that rank lower in the standings than the Islanders this season. However, Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano warned that's not a reason for the Isles to take it easy.
"When you have the top two lines that they have, they have the ability to strike at any time," Capuano said. "There are a lot of people that call their top line, the best line in hockey. There’s a reason why Corey Perry did what he did last year (scoring 50 goals and 48 assists for 98 points)."
Since the 2004-05 lockout, the Islanders have posted a 3-2-1 record against Anaheim and are 11-7-4-1 all-time. If the Isles continue to have special teams success and can keep Perry, Bobby Ryan and Ryan Getzlaf at bay, they could extend their current win streak to four games.