New Isles Coach, New Weapons for Devils Coach, New Deal for Rangers Coach

  1. The Islanders are for real — even without key personalities, Travis Hamonic and Cal Clutterbuck — and it remains to be seen if that “real” becomes REAL.
  1. To any close Islanders-watcher, there have been palpable changes in the club’s modus operandi. Specifically, the “Three Vs” are evident: Vim, vigor and vitality.
  1. Under the new Doug Weight Era, the energy level is up and the units are playing with more smarts.
  1. The key here is whether this streak is a result of the temporary “New Coach Syndrome” and will eventually return to old form; or whether even more good things — excuse the expression — “A-Weight-Us.”
  1. One little-mentioned aspect of the newer Islanders is the positive effect of John Tavares on the penalty-kill. The Captain has taken to the role with enthusiasm and his usual smarts. Plus, he’ll get better at it as games go by.
  1. Playing in Detroit on Friday night, the Isles failed to add to their playoff push. They try again Saturday night at home against Carolina.
  1. The Devils figure to enjoy a terrific home schedule this month. But there’s a real big “if” that goes with it.
  1. But here’s the hitch; home ice has been a DIS-advantage for coach John Hynes‘ stickhandlers. Since Dec. 27, New Jersey’s home record is 1-7-2. Clearly, if the Devils have playoff designs, it’s time for a change.
  1. Credit General Manager Ray Shero with another find. Newly-acquired Stefan Noesen has two goals in his first pair of games as a Devil. The Plano, Texas right wing has fit neatly on a line with Pavel Zacha and Jacob Josefson.
  1. Erratic so far, the Czech rookie, Zacha, is beginning to show improvement and appears more focused than in the season’s first half.
  1. Best forward for the Garden Staters — at the moment, anyhow — is Kyle Palmieri who stands out on almost every shift.
  1. What’s so good about our New Jersey product? Maven reporter James Mauldin puts it this way. “Kyle is physical, aggressive and his teammates love him!”
  1. No question Coach Hynes would love to have John Moore and Yohann Auvitu back on his blue line. A return for those two should not be far away.
  1. Nice work on Shero’s part nabbing 29-year-old vet Karl Stollery, who’s been moved up to a power play unit and, so far, has been effective.
  1. Unobtrusively and with little fuss and fanfare, Brady Skjei and Jimmy Vesey each has already registered at least 20 points this season.

Rangers Skjei Home Stock 11216

  1. That’s worth noting when one considers that prior to 2016-17, the last season in which two Rangers  freshmen tallied 20 or more points was 2010-11. Derek Stepan and Mats Zuccarello were the trick-doers.
  1. More on The Great Michael Grabner: The Magnificent Michael remains in the running as the NHL’s even-strength goal leader. As of the Buffalo game, Kid Lightning has 21 of the even-strength variety while leading the Blueshirts in goals with 22.

[Carpiniello: Grabner’s Value to Rangers Has Been Immeasurable]

  1. The Maven broke in covering the Rangers for the 1955-56 season, the same year that Phil Watson became New York coach. “Phiery Phil,” as we called him, lasted 295 games behind the bench before being canned early in the 1959-60 campaign.
  1. Fresh off of signing a two-year contract extension through the 2019-20 season, Alain Vigneault topped the Watson run against the Blue Jackets by coaching his 296th career game as Blueshirts head coach. That gives A.V. sole possession of sixth place on the franchise’s all-time games coached list.
  1. There’s a neat feature on the Rangers’ “Trio Grande” in the current Rookie Issue of The Hockey News. Vesey, Skjei and Pavel Buchnevich comprise the trio. They took different routes to the Big Apple, but arrived at the fork in the road at the same time.
  1. Now that the NHL has publicly allowed that it has its eyes on China as a long-term source of talent we should be hearing more about ex-Ranger Barry Beck. “Bubba,” as he was known around The Garden, has been coaching in China for several years.
  1. One more thought about Weight and his influence on the Islanders. Part of the club’s improvement is due to a few game plan changes that his players have bought into with enthusiasm. Each of those tweaks has produced positive results including the easier manner in which the players emerge from their zone.
  1. Interesting Stat Department: When the Islanders hosted Washington at Barclays Center on Tuesday night, it marked the first time in NHL history that two German-born goalies started the game. Philipp Grubauer for the Caps and Thomas Greiss — new contract and all — for the Isles.
  1. Henrik Lundqvist‘s latest statement win over Buffalo once and for all could be the start of something big for The King and his teammates.
  1. If there’s a better all-around offense in the NHL than the Rangers boast, I don’t know where it is.
  1. Sometimes Rick Nash and Michael Grabner are more exciting when they don’t score than when they do.