The goal for the New York Islanders next season has to be making the playoffs. What kind of output are they going to need from this group to get there?
Making the playoffs was the bare minimum requirement for the New York Islanders last season. Ownership wanted them to push forward from their first playoff round win in 23-years to make the conference finals. But they couldn’t even manage to be invited to the dance.
They almost made it. They were in the mix until the before last day of the season. Missing out on the post season by a single point.
I want to look at what kind of output, namely goals, does a team generally require to make the post season? What kind of output are we going to need from the 2017-18 Islanders for them to make the playoffs?
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To get an understanding of what I was looking for I looked at every playoff teams goals-for since the league started using the wild-card format.
It’s not that the wild-card itself leads to more or fewer goals, it’s just the construct were working with. And it gives a simple sample size of four seasons to work with.
The average is the easiest number to look at and compare to the Islanders. In 2016-17, last season, the average goals-for for all 16 playoff teams was 242.2. The New York Islanders scored 241.
Their issue wasn’t necessarily scoring goals, it was, as we all know, keeping them out. They let in 242 during the course of the season.
In this sample size, where the Islanders made the playoffs on twice, they scored above the average on each of those occasions. In 2015-16 they scored 232 goals – a whole 0.1 above the average – thanks to John Tavares’ 33 goals. In 2014-15, they were well above the 237.6 average with 252 goals. Again, thanks to Tavares’ heroics, with a 38 goal season.
On the years they didn’t make the playoffs they were below average. We already saw the single goal difference from last season. in 2013-14 they were south of the playoff average by some 12 goals with 225.
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What’s The Outlook For 2017-18?
The 2016-17 season was the first season since 2008-09 where goal scoring took a significant jump forward. It jumped by 0.2 in 2013-14, but that was after half the 2012-13 season was lost. It’s possible the league adds more goals again this season, but I wouldn’t bet on it.
With 241 goals last season, where are the extra goals going to come to stay north of the average in 2017-18?
Jordan Eberle. The replacement of Ryan Strome for Jordan Eberle is going to make all of the difference. Over his seven year NHL career, Jordan Eberle has shown he’s good for 25 goals in a regular year. A good year sees him get 34.
For Ryan Strome a good year was 17 and a low of eight. That spread, what Strome brought and what Eberle brings should be enough to bring the Isles above the average.
And I haven’t talked about what Andrew Ladd is going to look like going into year number two. Although my friend Matt O’Leary took a stab at it, saying he’ll net over 40 points this season with 20-25 goals. Taking that line of though Ladd would be a wash with the Isles 2017-18 goal total.
This team by all accounts looks like a playoff team. On paper, they should have the offensive production to win enough games to make it to the post season. But, as we all know, the game isn’t played on paper. The reality of the situation is incredibly murky, with the rest of the Metropolitan Division getting better over the offseason.