Catch of the Day: April '23


All the New York Islanders news that's fit to print!

Berger-on a Roll

It's been exactly one month since the Islanders acquired Patrice Bergeron from the Vegas Golden Knights, and the early returns have been everything the Isles and their fans could have hoped for: the team is sporting an 11-2-0 record, Bergeron has contributed 19 points (6G, 13A) in all situations, and the newly-minted second line—Bergeron flanked by Mitch Marner and Nick Paul—has tallied 9 goals and 21 points at 5 on 5.

The Islanders' porous penalty kill, meanwhile, has gotten a major boost since Bergeron became an option for Head Coach Mike Sullivan: in 13 games, the PK has killed 33 of 38 shorthanded situations—an 86.8% rate which sits well above the current league average of 81.5%, and would be good enough for first in the EHE if it were to continue over a full 82 games.

Those with sharp math skills will, of course, note that 13 is considerably less than 82. But even such a small sample is good news for a PK unit that had spent most of the season ranked 31st in the league, and looked to be jeopardizing the Islanders' playoff chances only a month ago.

As always, numbers don't tell the whole story either. Off the record, more than a few players have admitted over the years that the Islanders' locker room would become almost unbearable when the team faced even the slightest adversity. Now some of those same players are saying they are shocked at how quickly Bergeron's veteran presence has changed that dynamic. Externally there has even been speculation that Bergeron might take over the alternate captaincy from one of Tomas Hertl or Ryan McDonagh, but team officials have thrown cold water on those rumours.

Swimming with the Big Fish

Down on the farm, the Toledo Walleye continue to stay in the mix for a playoff spot in the AHL's Eastern Conference with a respectable 24-15-4 record.

It's a promising performance to be sure, boosted by the early-season commitment by Islanders management to upgrade their farm team's roster. To that end, in the last 8 weeks alone the organization has added forwards Mikhail Maltsev, Mackenzie Entwistle, and Alan Quine—who have contributed 28 points in a combined 29 games—along with blueliners Jakub Zboril and Brad Hunt, who have brought a mix of tough defense, offensive punch, and veteran leadership.

Certainly the Walleye will also take encouragement from their recent back-to-back showdown with the Belleville Senators, as they went blow for blow with one of the AHL's elite teams in a 4-3 OT loss before roaring back with an emphatic 7-3 victory the very next night.

It was the kind of statement series that proves the "new and improved" Walleye can hang with the best the AHL has to offer. But for all the roster upgrades, and for all the promise they have shown, Toledo still can't afford to let off the gas if they hope to end a Calder Cup playoff drought that dates back to 2018.