Sunday sees the New Jersey Devils (15-10-4) make the short trip to the Barclays Center to play division rivals, the New York Islanders (17-8-5). As the Islanders host Devils, both teams come into the game currently sitting in playoff spots with the Islanders recent run of wins putting them in third in the Metropolitan Division and New Jersey barely holding on to the final wild card spot. Both teams have looked impressive at times during this season, with consistency being the key to both of the teams hopes to continue to hold these spots as the season rolls on.
The Islanders have continued to play their fast-paced, hard-hitting style of hockey this season that has seen them win some impressive games, like the one against the New York Rangers at the beginning of December. That game seemed to be something of a catalyst to their season as the Islanders have been one of the best teams in the NHL since then, winning four of their last five, and the only loss being in OT.
Since after the two-game series against Montreal, they are on a hot streak and there’s no doubt in public opinion that they can keep this up and roll right into the playoffs. When you have the likes of Kyle Okposo, with a team-leading 25 points, accompanied by John Tavares (team-leading 12 goals), and with the way Jaroslav Halak has been playing this season, there’s no reason they can’t be qualified as contenders this year.
As for the New Jersey Devils, they have been a team of many faces this season, but have still somehow held onto a wild card spot through it all. The main key to their success is virtually the opposite of the high scoring Islanders- their success has come from their staunch defensive play and solid goaltending from Cory Schneider. Along with the brick wall of a defense, they seem to put out every night, their special teams play has been a beauty to behold for the fans in New Jersey, with their powerplay percentage (21.4%), and their penalty kill percentage (82%), being major contributing factors to the success they’ve had this season.
Sunday night will show which one will break first, as the high-energy, offensive Islanders host Devils and their immovable defense. This might come as just another Metropolitan match-up to some, but will leave ripples in both teams seasons as they look to solidify their push for supremacy.