The New York Islanders entered the 2015-16 with significant hope and expectations, in some regards they failed on those expectations but in other regards they set new and higher expectations.
The 2014-15 regular season ended on a high note for the New York Islanders. They hit the 100 point plateau and finished 3rd in the division. Being edged out only by the New York Rangers with a Presidents Trophy 113 points and on goal difference by the Washington Capitals.
They also managed to push the Washington Capitals to seven games in their first-round playoff matchup. Coming up just a goal short to fall 2-1 in the deciding game seven.
Going into the 2015-16 season the expectation was to match and progress on the foundation of the previous season. Make the playoffs was no longer the only goal for the season, win a playoff series was the goal. Something that the Islanders hadn’t been able to do in 23-years.
In 2015-16, the Islanders delivered on that goal by knocking out the Florida Panthers in six games on the back of a John Tavares double overtime goal. It’s fitting that Tavares, the cornerstone of the franchise would be the one to exercise the franchises demons.
But 2015-16 wasn’t filled with rainbows and lollypops. There was some significant strife the Islanders had to get over in order to get in the position they found themselves in towards the end of the season.
Strome has a Dip for the Ages
If John Tavares is the cornerstone of the franchise then Ryan Strome is the second stone in the foundation that is the New York Islanders. Or at least that’s what team executives hoped when they drafted him fifth overall in 2011.
In his first two years wearing the Orange and Blue Strome showed the potential that scouts thought he had. But in 2015-16 Strome fell through the floor producing but 28 points in 71 games played.
His regression was significant enough to warrant being sent to the Islanders AHL, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in November. Strome’s woes didn’t end there. In April of 2016, he found himself and a few teammates at the center of criticism from coach Jack Capuano.
Strome was by no means the center of the Islanders woes, but a 22 point regression in a single season is a worrying sign. Which fits perfectly with the overall complaint on the Islanders 2015-16 season; goal scoring.
Expectations Going Forward
In 2015-16, the New York Islanders scored 227 goals on an average of 29.4 shots for per game. In 2014-15, the Islanders scored a total of 245 goals on an average of 33.8 shots for per game, good enough for second in the league.
Ryan Strome’s regression is a big part of this decrease in goals. He isn’t the only one to blame. John Tavares and Johnny Boychuk both saw a decrease in points by 16 and 10 respectfully.
The expectations for the 2016-17 would be to maintain and progress. Get to the playoffs, push on to the second round, and hopefully make it to the third round.
Doing so necessitates having a successful regular season. In order to achieve this, the Islanders have to find their scoring touch. Something they can’t do if they aren’t shooting the puck at net. Fix that aweful downturn in shooting percentage