The NY Islanders have played 31 games and accrued 41 points thus far, placing them 3rd in the Eastern Conference, and 4th overall in the NHL. Not too shabby, especially with all the faux dramatics that we have been forced to watch by fans on various social websites, media, message boards, and what-not. You’d have thought this was a last place team with all the carrying-on. Just maybe sitting back and letting things play out has been the right call all along? This is why I have suggested we look at 10 game increments.
In looking at 10 game increments:
1st one was solid.
2nd one: losing record thanks to the two losses versus Montreal, but starting to look better thanks to the West Coast swing. Would it continue?
3rd? A fabulous run, likely a bit over-average.
At 31 games in the season the Islanders are:
7th overall in NHL in Goals For Per Game
6th overall in NHL in Goals Against Per Game
10th overall in NHL in Powerplay%
4th overall in NHL in Penalty Kill% (and been consistently in this range)
16th overall in the NHL in Face-Off wins*
15th in shots for, 15th in shots against.*
So what can we learn from all this?
1. People have been overreacting all offseason and carried it to every game or even several games. Maybe it’s time to stop the drama, sit back a bit? So far, the most vocal have been looking silly. If we cry wolf every time there is a stutter… well… we have #isles Twitter. While there have been excellent points made on items by quite a few fans, it is drowned in a cacophony of chicken little mentality. We will learn this season if Jack Capuano is the guy to take them to the next level. We will see if they can get past round 1 of the playoffs. We are still not even at the halfway point of this season, yet for all the melodrama, look where we are? Results? Results are the standings, ladies and gents. The rest is to be determined.
2. Seasons are long, natural up and down, ebb and flow. This is a marathon, not a quick run.
3. The Islanders are very good hockey team, and will end up with 102-108 points in all likelihood.
4. Room for improvement*: Possession game can be more consistent. Team needs to learn how veteran contending teams close out a game in 3rd period. JT will score more, so it is hard to worry there. Strome is starting to come back to a .5 point per game avg, and responded to the AHL demotion. The powerplay has fluctuated a bit. At best it was 4th overall. 10th overall, currently, is livable. Anything over this is unacceptable. Leddy has woken up. Boychuk can still play better.
5. There are a solid 4 lines, good defense, AND great goaltending. Greiss and Halak have been stellar.
6. For those who feel regression will occur: regression has already occurred. This is why the Isles are averaging 13 PTS per 10gm segment. One has been too low, another one too high.
7. Strait might be far from an analytical darling… but at least he is a 7th dman who can sit for 2 weeks at a time. come in for a game, sit again and play in short term injury situations. The Islanders have a useful plugin that is not the horror fans make it out to be. This oft-maligned item allows the kids to play every day in AHL and learn craft. Zidilicky and Strait are unlikely to be back next year. This gives the kids a year to let them play/grow. Isn’t the longterm development of players the most important thing here?
8. Not sure the problem with having 4th best record in league and not yet playing best hockey. Let us see what we have going March into April.
9. Garth seems to be in no rush to do anything. This means Hamonic is likely to remain. It means Okposo stays. It means tough decisions might wait until offseason. If the team is to win-now, and kids to get best development in AHL… then this all makes sense to simply carry-on as-is until someone is willing to meet a price that makes Garth feel the Isles are a better team.
10. Let us meet again to talk overall items and what it all means… 9 more games from now. Stick to the 10 game increments… and we can see where we are then.