The NHL regular season is just around the corner. In anticipation, Eyes on Isles takes a look at every team in our division. What have they done to their roster, have they improved, and how will the New York Islanders fair against them?
The New Jersey Devils were a force to be reckoned with between the mid 90’s and the early 2000’s. Winning three Stanley Cups, four conference championships, and five divisional championships. But the New York Islanders have been the force du-jour between the cross-state rivals recently.
This is the third installment in our preview of the Metropolitan Divison, and how each team in the division stacks up against the Isles. We’ve already previewed the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Washington Capitals.
If it wasn’t for the Montréal Canadiens wanting to always be the center of attention, the Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson trade would have been the mind-blowing blockbuster trade of the year.
Taylor Hall went to New Jersey for Adam Larsson. One-for-one. One of the best 5-on-5 players in the league right now was worth, to Edmonton at least, New Jersey’s 23-years-old right-handed, first-parring defenseman Adam Larsson. The comedy writes itself.
New Jersey had the worst goals-for stat in the league last season. Scoring a total of 182 goals, or 2.2 goals per game on average over the course of the season. Adding Hall and his almost guaranteed 20 goals will have a great positive effect on that number in 2016-17.
Losing Larsson certainly weakens the Devils defensively, but they can always count on Corey Schneider to bail them out. If Montréal can lean on Carey Price, then New Jersey can do it with Schneider.
What does that mean for the New York Islanders? Get used to seeing a lot of Taylor Hall. Luckily for us we’re pretty good at containing Hall.
In his seven career games versus the Islanders Hall has five points and a negative one plus/minus rating. We’ve also been able to limit him to a 10.3% shooting percentage, just below his career average.
These aren’t great numbers, but when you’re up against an elite talent like Taylor Hall the strategy is to contain. To limit the amount of harm he’s going to cause. And on a team like New Jersey, limiting Hall is akin to putting a branch through the spokes of a bike.
Last season we won our four game series against the Devils by a margin of 3-1. The one coming in a shootout loss on Halloween night. We outscored the Devils 9-4, with two shutouts to end the series.
The Devils are by no means contenders, but with the acquisition of Taylor Hall, they immediately jump to a fringe team in the division. One that could be challenging for a wildcard spot in the conference.
Taking the season series against the boys of Newark is going to help separate ourselves from that wildcard pack. Containing Hall is going to be paramount in ensuring that.