1. Who/What Do You See Being The Biggest Factor To The Islanders Success For This Season?
Andy – Defensive play. The Islanders can win games with the combination of Nabokov and Poulin. However, they have to be smooth in transition, make good clearances and block shots. They won’t survive allowing an average of over 30 shots per game.
Rich - The key to Islander success will always derive from John Tavares’s ability to score goals and create opportunities for his teammates. But the overriding factor is health. If they Islanders stay healthy, as they did last year, then as the season progresses and players/lines continue understanding one another, the squad will emerge as successful as to be expected
Mike W – Kevin Poulin is the key to the Isles making another playoff run this season, especially since the backup goalie job is his to lose. Assuming he makes the team, head coach Jack Capuano will look for 30-35 starts from Poulin in order to keep starting netminder Evgeni Nabokov well rested. Poulin has to prove he’s NHL-ready and can shoulder a decent-sized workload this year; without a solid backup option in net, the Isles can score all the goals they want – as they did last year – and it won’t matter. Poulin was solid in limited playoff action last year, and he recorded the team’s biggest win (in Winnipeg against the Jets) towards the end of the regular season. If he can be steady in relief of Nabokov, the Isles will be in great shape. (Honorable mention for the “what” part of this question: home attendance at the Coliseum this year. The fans need to carry the 2013 postseason energy into the 2013-14 season to give the Islanders a true home-ice edge.)
Chris - The team’s power play. It struggled mightily at times in key spots last season, and it shouldn’t get any easier without Mark Streit. The Islanders need to convert more with the man-advantage if they want to distinguish themselves as contenders in 2013-14.
Eric - Goaltending. Plain and simple. Nabokov has to be the regular season Nabby of last year. If we see playoffs Nabby, expect the first overall pick. The Isles have proven they have scoring behind Tavares. With the addition of Bouchard and some youngsters, that should be improved further.
Mike R – Biggest factor for the Islanders to move forward and return to the playoffs, in my opinion, is the goalie play of Nabokov. I think Lubo will step up and fill the hole on the blue line and do just as good or better at being the teams quarterback on the power play as Streit was. The offense will produce as well, or better than last year, so not a worry for me at all. However, I believe we need great play out of Nabokov, and very solid play out of the number two, whether that guy is Poulin or Nielssen. So ultimately, the season comes down goalie play in my opinion.
Shane – I think the biggest factor for this season’s New York Islanders will be the play of Evgeni Nabokov and Kevin Poulin. We know the team has stellar offense and a steadily improving defense, but without proper goaltending a great offense can only take you so far.
Pete – The biggest factor is undoubtedly Nabokov. If he gets off to a bad start, the Islanders won’t be making much noise this season. The team needs him playing sharp every game. The Isles have a young, rather inexperienced defense, so Nabokov has to rise to the occasion. If he does, there’s no reason why the Islanders can’t be a playoff team.
Reagan – Most people will assume John Tavares will be the biggest factor in determining how the Islanders season unfolds. While that is very much true, I believe not just one person, but a core will be the determining factor for the Isles success: the defense. The entire off-season, we’ve heard how big of a question mark the goalie situation is, but having a solid group playing in front of them will allow both Nabokov and Poulin to perform much better themselves. Take the pressure off the goalies and provide solid defense.
Joe - The goaltending will be the biggest factor to the Islanders success this season. Fans have had a taste of what this team is capable of doing last season and the Islanders are able to put up goals and do enough on defense to churn out wins. But late in the season, especially in the playoffs, we saw a glaring soft spot at the back and that Evgeni Nabokov. On too many occasions, he was giving up soft goals and putting the team in a big hole. In order to make a real statement as a threat in the Eastern Conference, the Islanders will need goaltending, whether it is Nabokov or Kevin Poulin or Anders Nilsson, which is capable of making the big save from time to time.