So with the 6-3 beating of the Thrashers on Saturday, the Islanders record remains at 6-6-5. They will now embark on a 7 consecutive road game schedule, the longest of the season. That sounds bad but not if you look at their opponents. Let us start with this week only. First up: the Caps. Washington should be their toughest opponent of the schedule. After a date in Washington, they move on to the depleted Carolina Hurricanes and finish the week with the Florida Panthers. That first part of this long schedule does not sound too intimidating and if the Islanders lose, they only have themselves to blame. They need to be ready like they were against Atlanta, and not be flat like they were against the Devils.
Blake Comeau, Sean Bergenheim and Jack Hillen all scored their first goals of the season against Atlanta. If the Islanders really want to make a statement during this stretch, those three players must continue to do the same style of work and effort if they want to see regular ice time. Sean Bergenheim has been doing everything but score, & I would not be surprised if he got a few more during this road trip. Also look for Trent Hunter to be back in the lineup, which means either Comeau or Sim may actually sit for a while.
As for Hillen, he now must replace Martinek for the rest of the season. Some people have said that may be hard to do, but I disagree. Granted a torn ACL is no laughing injury, but the fact remains that Martinek is always injury-prone and that most fans saw this coming. Hillen needs to continue his play, and shoot the puck often. This will be his make or beak year and if he does produce, fans are looking at Martinek's replacement.
If the Islanders truly want to be mentioned in the playoff hunt in December or by the Olympic break, the Islanders need to win in November. Winning the next three games in a row would be a nice start and the end to this long road trip may take the Islanders into a place they haven't been considered for in a while.