Josh Ho-Sang is an Islanders top prospect and one of the most gifted players in the OHL, but you wouldn’t know it if you asked many Canadian hockey people.
Ho-Sang was not even interviewed by 12 teams prior to last year’s draft despite being called “one of the most highly skilled players in the draft.” This week, Matthew Barnaby got on the youngster for supposedly only trying hard for one shift (which many who saw the game in question have contested) in a contest that was meaningless to the playoff standings. So meaningless, Connor McDavid didn’t even dress.
In the wake of this, The Hockey Writers’ Pete Judge has come to Ho-Sang’s aid with an impassioned defense.
“There are so many reasons why it’s hard to ignore a former NHL pest turned analyst bashing the work ethic of the Niagara Ice Dogs’ statistical leader, especially considering Ho-Sang joined the struggling squad as they had won just 5 of their first 18 through early November and was the catalyst that led the team to win 32 of their last 50 games and secure a playoff spot.
And his ‘selfish’ play on the ice that people keep pointing to? Joshua Ho-Sang had 46 primary assists in the OHL this season. The next closest Niagara teammate was Carter Verhaeghe with 28. Only Mitch Marner, Dylan Strome, Kevin Labanc, Connor McDavid, and Max Domi had more primary assists this season.”
In 60 games between Windsor and Niagra, Ho-Sang has scored 17 goals and 81 points.
I highly recommend Judge’s column. It has some great anecdotes about the maturity Ho-Sang showed at Islanders camp, and how flimsy the case against him is.
Canadian hockey people can weird, super conservative folk, and for whatever reason, some of them have just decided not to like Ho-Sang. Personally, I am glad I am not a part of that bubble, because Ho-Sang has all the makings of an Islanders favorite. From the sampling of highlights and sound bites I’ve seen and read from this season, Ho-Sang just seems like a confident guy who loves the sport and works his tail off. What’s not to like?
Look at some of the names mentioned up in that primary assist stat. Strome, McDavid, Domi. Those are elite players. Teams are falling all over themselves to draft McDavid, with Strome not far behind. Domi is considered one of the best drafted prospects in the game. That’s the rarefied air Ho-Sang is breathing right now, and it cost Garth Snow just two second round picks in a weak draft to get him. I’d love to see Ho-Sang give Jack Capuano a really tough decision next training camp, because there’s no doubt in my mind he’ll stand out. I think it’s just a matter of time before we see a lot of orange-and-blue number 66 jerseys around these parts.
The Islanders may have fallen in a shout out on Tuesday night, but the team looked and felt like their old selves.
“We got back to the way we were skating earlier this season,” Kyle Okposo told reporters after the game. “We were pretty good in all facets. We have to keep playing our game and keep worrying about ourselves.”
“I think we deserved to win the game,” John Tavares agreed. “I thought we dictated the play. You just have to find a way to beat the goaltender when you have chances.”
I was actually far more encouraged by the game on Tuesday than I was the win over the Devils on Saturday. The Islanders absolutely dominated the play against Minnesota, and in the few instances where they didn’t, Jaro Halak came up huge to rob the Wild of some quality scoring chances. The Isles were hit with some bad bounces, both on Zach Parise’s equalizer and his shout out attempt, but New York had far more attempts and Halak has now played two straight games where he’s make big saves when he’s needed to. That’s a welcome sight with the playoffs quickly approaching. In short, if not for Devan Dubnyk, it would have been an easy two points.
March has been an uneven month, and I needed to see an effort like this to put my mind at ease headed toward April. With the Isles’ magic number now at 10 points, the rest of this homestand takes on a dual purpose: keep whittling that number away and get back to dictating the pace. The Islanders accomplished that on Tuesday, and it was refreshing to see.
Former Islander Pat LaFontaine joined the Islanders Point Blank podcast this week. Here are five things we learned from the Isles great…
1) Despite past tension, Charles Wang reached out to Pat to invite him to the Coliseum one last time.
2) Pat scored a goal and assist in his first playoff game vs. the Rangers in 1984.
3) He called Al Arbour the ‘Vince Lombardi of the NHL.’
4) Isles equipment manager Jim Pickard predicted to Pat that he would score the game-winner in the Easter Epic.
5) During the fourth overtime, the organist played the Twilight Zone theme right before Pat’s goal.
To listen to LaFontaine on the podcast, click play below…
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The Islanders thought their scoring woes had subsided on Saturday in New Jersey, but they once again found themselves facing a hot goalie Tuesday night at Nassau Coliseum.
Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:
Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk made 37 saves as the Islanders fell 2-1 to the Wild in the shootout. It was their fifth loss in their last six games and the fifth time in that span that Isles failed to produce more than one goal. Until their recent skid, the Islanders had been one of the highest scoring teams in the NHL.
“You have to find ways to get the goals and maybe get in front of [the goalie] a little bit more so he can’t see them,” Johnny Boychuk said. “They’re all not going to be pretty, but we just have to keep working hard.”
The Islanders put up the effort to win. The home team dominated the visiting Wild through the first two periods and outshot them 29-17. The Islanders even led after two periods off a goal by John Tavares in closing minute of the second. To read more of this story, click here
Recap: The Islanders lost their fifth in a row at home, but picked up a point at the Coliseum after losing four straight there in regulation.
Need to Know: John Tavares, Frans Nielsen and Kyle Okposo missed in the shootout, while Zach Parise converted for the Wild.
Tavares scored his 34th goal with 24 seconds left in the second period, ending a season-high five-game scoreless streak. . .Parise tied it with 8:15 left in regulation.
Former Islander Thomas Vanek had a breakaway chance to win the game in overtime but was stopped by Islanders goalie Jaroslav Halak (31 saves).
Before Tuesday, the Wild had scored at least five goals in back-to-back wins against the Islanders, after they scored more than four goals in only one of their first 15 meetings against New York.
The Wild have won 10 consecutive road games, the longest road win streak in the NHL this season. The last team to win at least 10 straight road games in a season was the Sharks, from Nov. 14-Dec. 31, 2007.
The last time the Islanders failed to earn a point in five straight at home was Oct. 13-Nov. 1, 2008.
Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk (37 saves) made his 32nd consecutive start, the most since Antti Niemi started 34 straight for San Jose in 2011.
Links: Box Score
What’s Next: The Islanders continue their four-game homestand Thursday against the Los Angeles Kings (7:30 p.m.)
Pictures of a credit card and driver’s license belonging to Nick Leddy were reportedly posted on Twitter Tuesday in a series of tweets threatening the Islanders defenseman (TSN, March 24).
Gino Reda of Canadian sports network TSN reported the Twitter account has been suspended and that Leddy’s family is “fine”. NHL security is working local New York law enforcement officials to track down the owner of the account. The profile indicated the account belonged to a woman, but there was no definitive proof that was accurate.
Yahoo NHL writer Greg Wyshynski published screen grabs of two of the tweets in question. Wynshyski reported that NHL.com reporter Sydney Esiason, the daughter of former Jets quarterback Boomer Esiason who is reportedly dating the Islanders’ Matt Martin, was in one of the photos sent out by the suspended user.
Leddy was on the ice for the Islanders’ home game against Minnesota Tuesday.
A tweet by “Travis Hamonic” — which does not belong to Leddy’s Islander teammate — was sent at 12:22 p.m. asking “Is this girl really posting Nick Leddy’s id and credit card?” That prompted a series of responses alerting law enforcement to the tweets and led to a Reddit thread on the incident.
The Islanders host the Minnesota Wild tonight at 7 p.m. at Nassau Coliseum. The game will be presented on MSG Plus, as well as WRHU 88.7 FM and LI News Radio 103.9 FM.
Tonight will be the first time that Thomas Vanek returns to Nassau Coliseum since being traded last season. The Wild forward told reporters earlier in the day that he was close to re-signing with the Islanders, but the team’s move to Brooklyn “scared him away.”
The Wild (41-25-7) have are hot coming into tonight’s game. The Wild are 8-3-0 in the month of March and have two straight. The Islanders (44-25-4) snapped a four-game losing streak on Saturday in New Jersey and scored multiple goals in a game for the first time since March 9 in Toronto.
The Islanders will have Jaroslav Halak back in net — he recorded a shutout win against the Devils Saturday — and Calvin de Haan is back on the blue line after serving as a healthy scratch. Matt Donovan will sit tonight.
Minnesota will try to ride Devan Dubnyk to another victory. He has been one of the hottest goaltenders in the National Hockey League and he has been a huge boost for the Wild. Forward Kyle Brodziak will sit out for Minnesota and Jordan Schroeder will take his place.
The Wild defeated the Islanders earlier in the season in Minnesota 5-4. The Islanders took a 3-0 lead off goals from Michael Grabner, Brock Nelson and Matt Martin on December 9. The Isles had a 4-1 lead after two periods, but the Wild rallied back with a four goal third period.