New York Islanders react well to early-season difficulties
New York Islanders forward Adam Proteau breaks down the 9-6-0 team that has added excitement to the NHL’s Metropolitan Division playoff chase.
The New York Islanders started the NHL season 2-4-0, but have since won seven straight games and played much better. As disappointing as Thursday’s home defeat to the Coyotes was, the Isles are starting to resemble the squad that was a serious Stanley Cup contender in the years 2019–2021.
The bright side is that they are using defense to do this, unlike the vast majority of NHL clubs. The Islanders have allowed only 38 goals in 15 games, the second-fewest in the Metropolitan Division, behind only Philadelphia (34 goals), who has played two less games. They have the top goals-against average in the Metro at 2.56, and their ace goaltender, Ilya Sorokin, has been outstanding once again with a 2.20 GAA and.933 saving % in 10 games played. Moreover, their 85.7 percent penalty kill success percentage ranks third in the NHL.
New York Islanders
Lane Lambert, in his first season as a head coach, has shown that he has absorbed some of his mentor Barry Trotz’s defensive savvy. The Islanders have only let up more than three goals once in their nine victories, and they’ve only given up more than two goals three times.
This club makes their opponents earn every inch of ice they play on, and Semyon Varlamov’s backup status may be in jeopardy because to Ilya Sorokin’s strong start. Even though Varlamov has a modified no-trade provision allowing him to submit a list of 16 teams he would not want to be traded to, Lamoriello still faces a significant bidding war for a veteran in his last year of contract. Even if Varlamov hasn’t been as as effective as Sorokin, the Isles should still make a tidy profit in this seller’s market.
The Islanders’ offensive performance has been respectable, and it should not be overlooked when discussing the team’s recent success. Their 3.27 goals-for average is above par (twelfth best in the league). Their scoring is quite well-balanced, with their top two forward lines producing the most of the damage and their bottom two lines not having much of an impact in their short playing time.
Although the Isles are pleased with the 15 assists Mat Barzal has racked up so far this season, the fact that he has yet to score indicates there is space for growth in his game as well. Barzal is one season away from signing an eight-year, $73.2-million contract extension.
A victory may make all the difference in the world while playing in the NHL. Finding genuine, rational optimism may be challenging. Two years of experience have taught the Isles this. Furthermore, this year’s crop is the healthiest it’s been in quite some time.
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If the Islanders want to make the playoffs again, they’ll need to keep this up. Despite their remarkable comeback, the Isles are only third in the Metropolitan, a single point ahead of the New York Rangers in fifth. And the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins, now in sixth and seventh place, respectively, aren’t going away quietly. They will almost certainly aim to overtake the Islanders for the last playoff spot. Much more bad luck is still to come for the Isles.
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Long Island should be experiencing joy right about now. The transition to Lamoriello’s new coaching staff has been successful. They won because their number one goaltender made all the saves they needed. They have improved their goal-scoring efficiency compared to previous season. It looks like making the playoffs is a real possibility, and if that happens, the team will need Sorokin to step up his game to compete successfully in the postseason. The Islanders have shown the work ethic to make another deep postseason run if he continues to be on point.