Since October, the New York Islanders have had their share of ups and downs. A fast start was followed by a rash of injuries which then led to a dreadful month-long stretch. At the midway point of a season on the brink of falling apart, the Islanders are ready to make a playoff push.
The 2017-18 NHL season began with mixed expectations for the New York Islanders. After an impressive start, the Islanders and their fanbase started to believe that yet another rebuilding process was complete and that they were ready to contend in what would prove to be an extremely tough Metro Division.
For the first quarter of the season, we had every reason to believe that we were right. Every facet of this New York Islanders team was clicking. The production of players like John Tavares and Nick Leddy became something we could now take for granted.
The revelation that has been rookie sensation
and the long-awaited arrival of the real
further solidified our assumptions that the New York Islanders were finally ready to compete at the highest level. Up until the calendar turned to December, the Islanders were truly looking the part.
Happy Holidaze from the New York Islanders
Not long after the last piece of leftover turkey from Thanksgiving was made into one last sandwich, the New York Islanders transformed into turkeys themselves. Entering December, the Islanders were 15-7-2 and looking like they belonged in the conversation to be considered one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference.
Then it all started falling apart. Practically the entire month of December was one the Islanders would like to forget. From the litany of injuries sustained to the lack of reliable goaltending, the New York Islanders appeared to be a team totally lost at times.
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In order for the Islanders to regain their footing and remain in the playoff race, they’ll need to erase the last month from their memories. Now that the young reserves have gotten a taste of the NHL and aren’t as understandably nervous, we may begin to see a new dynamic to the Isles.
What must happen for the New York Islanders to succeed?
Where do we begin? As just mentioned, the players that have filled in for the ever-growing list of injured New York Islanders really need to step up and get acclimated fast. Youngsters like Sebastian Aho, Alan Quine, Anthony Beauvillier, and now Michael Dal Colle, are going to be expected to produce at high levels.
The goaltending will need to drastically improve if this team wants to make the playoffs. In this writer’s opinion, that is not a far-fetched dream. Just before the “bye week” arrived, Jaroslav Halak was slowly but surely finding his way out of the dreadful slump he’s been stuck in. If he can build off his improved play and find his way into a groove, it would help the Isles considerably.
Thomas Greiss will need to prove that he can once again be relied upon. Once he regains the trust of head coach Doug Weight, he will begin to see more time in net for the Islanders. Once he regains his self-confidence, he can once again be the capable netminder he’s been. A dependable complement to Halak would give the Isles two viable options in net as the season wears on.
The Islanders bottom six forwards also really need to get it together. Brock Nelson has been invisible. Jason Chimera has been, as well. Cal Clutterbuck and Casey Cizikas have been consistent but there’s room for improvement, for sure. If the New York Islanders want to secure themselves a playoff berth, consistency alone will just not suffice. They will need excellence.