NY Islanders Lack Eye-Popping Statistics, Still Winning
By Andrew Eichenholz
Every year the same thing happens when somebody goes to check out who is leading the National Hockey League in some of its most important categories. One way or another, Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins will be among the top point-getters, while Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning will dominate the goal-scoring categogry. However, the New York Islanders, who sit in eighth in the entire NHL with games in hand over many top contenders, do not have statistics that will show that. One would expect young, yet already superstar-level John Tavares to be putting up statistics to parallel the things that the likes of Crosby and Stamkos do. That is not the case, yet there is one team in New York that is fairing well in the league, and it is not the New York Rangers.
The following are the leaders in each major statistical category for the Islanders, with their ranking in the NHL in parentheses.
1) Brock Nelson-9 (T-7)
2) John Tavares-7 (T-27)
3) Kyle Okposo/Frans Nielsen-5 (T-74)
If somebody were to say that they thought that Brock Nelson would still be leading the Islanders in goals scored this deep into the year, people would call them crazy. Well, John Tavares is not ruling the goals roost just yet, and that is a great sign for fans. Moving forward, when Tavares kicks into his midseason second gear, it is more than likely that he will grab the crown and run with it, but it is nice to see that he has had support. If Nelson continues his early-year stretch of play throughout the season, the NHL will not be in for an easy matchup.
Tip of the Tower
1) Kyle Okposo- 13 (T-10)
2) John Tavares- 11 (T-22)
3) Johnny Boychuk- 10 (T-32)
Once again, the Islanders have nobody who will stand out from the pack and lead the NHL in any category, that is just not how this team is built. One could envision the skills of Tavares taking him to a late-season points battle, but for now, it is good to look at the rest of the guys. Newly-acquired defenseman Johnny Boychuk has already shown the potential he has to make an impact on the blue line, with his big shot and quarterbacking ability. Time will tell if he has more to offer in coach Jack Capuano’s system than he has already shown.
1) Brock Nelson- 18 (T-16)
2) John Tavares- 18 (T-16)
3) Kyle Okposo- 18 (T-16)
Well, well, well, what a surprise. It is safe to say that Nelson, Tavares and Okposo are the three biggest threats that the Islanders have to throw at opponents this season, so to see that they are the leading scorers for the team is not a shocker. However, it is great to see that Tavares is not alone. The more players that the Islanders have to contribute on a game-in game-out basis, the easier it will be for them to adjust when somebody gets cold or suffers an inevitable injury. Nelson is still very young and inexperienced, but a big run throughout the season could only benefit him in the long run.
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Jaroslav Halak- 91.4% (T-22)
A lot of the goaltending statistics in hockey are extremely misleading, because many goals scored in the NHL have to do with defensive lapses or strong offensive performances for a given goalie’s team. Therefore, arguably the most accurate of many is the save percentage, as it is purely based off of comparing the number of saves a goaltender makes to the count of goals they give up. With a handful of goalies above Halak in this category who are actually backups, being tied for 22nd is not all that bad, but people need to pay careful attention to the shutouts Halak has won this season. Yes, he was very good in those games, but was the defense in front of him better than usual?
So, as the NHL gets into the meat of its schedule, the Islanders are an anomaly near the top of the standings without anybody in particular standing out statistically. That is a testament to their depth, which will prove to be beneficial down the stretch, as anybody else getting hot could really put this team over the top.