John Tavares‘ overtime winner last night against the New Jersey Devils marked the end of the New York Islanders’ 41st game of the season, meaning that the team has reached the half way point of the campaign.
At the half-way mark of the season the Isles are sitting atop the Metropolitan Division with a 27-13-1 record and 55 points (in fairness, both the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers have more potential points than the Isles, as they have yet to complete 41 games).
Despite their record and their position in the standings it is fair to say that the Isles dipped a bit in their form these last 20 games from the first quarter of the season. After starting the year with the most wins ever through 21 games, posting a 15-6-0 record (and most importantly a A+ from me), the Isles have earned themselves a 12-7-1 record in the ensuing 20. Not a bad record by any measure, but not nearly the torrid pace they set out of the gate.
So how do we grade the Isles’ second quarter of the 2014-15 season?
I would give the team a B. In most years, a 20 games stretch that yielded 12 wins would be worthy of higher praise, but this season, and this team, is different than the recent incarnations of the New York Islanders. They are held to loftier standards.
Part of the grading process of this team, which is outside of the control of the team itself, has been it’s position relative to the rest of the division. After 21 games the Isles seemed to be in a two horse race with the Penguins for the division crown, holding an eight point cushion between themselves and the third place Rangers. The Rangers and Washington Capitals have now both drawn within four points of the Isles, and both have games in hand. Not the scenario I envisioned after the first quarter of the season.
The Isles have established the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum as a stronghold this season, posting an impressive 14-4-0 record on home ice, but during the second quarter they have seen their performance away from home ice drop off a bit. After starting the season 8-4-0 on the road, they have played to a record of 5-5-1 in their last 11 road games.
The remainder of the Islanders schedule has only 18 road games, as opposed to 23 home tilts, if the Isles can maintain their home prowess, they should put themselves in a position to finish in the top two of the Metropolitan, and have home ice during the first round of the playoffs.
Please feel free to elaborate upon your grade in the comments.