New York Islanders Are A Playoff Team In 2017-18 NHL Season
The New York Islanders finish seventh in the Metropolitan Divison in 2017-18. That’s what The Hockey News believes, for reasons that just don’t add up.
In the hype leading up to the 2017-18 NHL season, we all wonder how the New York Islanders are going to finish the year. Will they make the playoffs? Or will it be the second year in a row that they miss the post season?
Eyes on Isles dedicated a whole podcast on the topic! We brought on Sean Tierney of The Athletic and Hockey Graphs to go over how analytics project the Islanders will finish the 2017-18 season. Depending on the model the results swing greatly.
But if you were to tell me that the Islanders would only beat the New Jersey Devils in their division I’d call you crazy, and then ask for a reason. The Hockey News did just that and the reason they gave was: defense is “meh” and so is the goaltending.
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What Did They Actually Say?
The Hockey News didn’t actually say the New York Islanders goaltending was “meh”. What they actually said about the Islanders was:
"The offense is capable, but the defense and goaltending comes with enough cause for concern that entering into the division title or playoff race seems unlikely."
Let’s look at those factors for a second there. Because from what I say last season both of those factors were good enough to get into the playoffs. It was the offense that let the team down.
First is the defense. While the Islanders lost Travis Hamonic via trade last season his spot is immediately taken by Ryan Pulock. A player with tremendous offensive upside both at 5on5 and on the power play.
Outside of Hamonic and his 49 injury plagued games and 14 points the Islanders defensive core is the same as last year. A core that was the ninth most productive in the league. Only eight teams were better. Three from the metro; Pittsburgh, Washington, and the Rangers.
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This defensive core should be better, at least when it comes to productivity. Where the Islanders struggle on the defensive side is reducing the number of shots going towards their net. In 2016-17 they ranked fifth in terms of shots against per game.
But looking at the table you’ll notice that the Penguins were worse in that regard and they won back-to-back cups on the back of a capable offense. Something the Islanders have according to the Hockey News. So, put a pinch of salt on that number.
Now goaltending. Can we all agree that the Islanders goaltending last season was abnormally terrible? Halak’s .900 SV% leading up to his demotion to the AHL was the worst he’d done since 2012-13.
We know he wasn’t happy about the three goalie system. Who was? Garth Snow and maybe Thomas Greiss because it essentially led to him being able to play more and earn a $10 million three-year contract.
Even with that terrible start, the New York Islanders finished the regular season in 17th in terms of team save percentage. Only four Metropolitan Division teams finished above them: Columbus, Pittsburgh, Washington, and the Rangers.
Three of those teams stayed the same in the crease and the Rangers got worse. I don’t know about you, but I’m not banking on Bryan Elliot or Scott Darling being a big difference maker in Philadelphia and Carolina. Both teams had barely above .900 SV% last season (ranking 26th & 27th).
I know that The Hockey News can’t spend countless hours to deep dive into every NHL team. These posts take time to write up.
But, C’mon guys. You’re better than this. Finishing seventh in the Metro seems like just preconceived notions coming true. The negative drama surrounding the New York Islanders, with the Tavares contract and the arena drama making it easy to cast shade on the Islanders.
Next: Best Case Scenarios for Isles in 2017-18
But if they actually looked at the team, and considered the analysis that they themselves wrote. They’d realize that they got the situation dead wrong. The New York Islanders won’t win the division. I’m not that delusional, yet. But the Islanders are a playoff team. That much is clear to me.