New York Islanders Could Miss Playoffs Despite Historic Offense

NEWARK, NJ - FEBRUARY 24: Mathew Barzal
NEWARK, NJ - FEBRUARY 24: Mathew Barzal /

The New York Islanders aren’t quite out of the race just yet, but the wheels are most certainly beginning to wiggle. After an overtime loss to Pittsburgh last night, the Isles are three points and a couple of games out of the final wild-card spot.

The New York Islanders just can’t seem to get things right. This could be the best bad team I’ve ever seen in my entire sports-watching life, save for the 2003 New York Mets (look up their roster and record). One might say, “that team had two future Hall of Famers on it!”.

Well, is that such a far-fetched thing to say about this team? That’s a discussion for another article.

This one will be more focused on the incredible offensive potency of this Islanders team and the alarming trajectory their season has taken since getting off to a very hot start.

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Three Islanders’ players are on pace for point-per-game seasons (Mathew Barzal, John Tavares, Josh Bailey) and one has an outside chance of reaching that benchmark (Anders Lee, currently has 50 points).

Tavares and Lee are on pace to eclipse the 40-goal plateau, a mark not met by two Isles teammates in the same season since Ray Ferraro and Derek King both scored 40 each in 1991-’92.

New York Islanders’ Mat Barzal has his sights set on Calder Trophy

Mathew Barzal is quickly reaching shoe-in status for the Calder Trophy. Since the turn of the new year, Barzy has slowly but surely pulled away from leading contender Brock Boeser of the Vancouver Canucks.

While Boeser is having himself a phenomenal season, his 29 goals and 26 assists may not be enough to compete with Matty Nice’s (yes, new one. like it?) 18 goals and 49 assists in 66 games thus far.

I’m sure some of you have seen the comparison in Barzy’s stats to those of Sidney Crosby in his rookie season with the Penguins. In 81 games in Crosby’s 2005-06 rookie campaign, he had 39 goals and 63 assists.

While Barzal will almost certainly not hit 39 goals this season, he’s got an outside shot, at the very least, of matching his assist total (63). But I’ve gotten away from my point…

How bad has it gotten for the Islanders?

Obviously, the New York Islanders have been plagued all season by poor defensive play and, at times, even worse goaltending. While Jaroslav Halak has shown sporadic signs of improvement over the last couple of months, the Isles shots allowed and goals allowed remain last in the league in both categories.

For the Islanders to make a run at a postseason berth, they’re going need maximum-effort performances from their entire defensive corps, as well as goaltenders Halak and newcomer (who played fantastic last night, by the way) Christopher Gibson.

Having quite possibly one of the most offensively-gifted offensive arsenals since the Islanders’ dynasty of the early 80’s clearly doesn’t equate to wins in today’s NHL. Equally good (or at least something close, geez) defense is a necessity in order to succeed in this offensively-advanced game.

Am I saying that the Isles are gonna turn it all around and make a run at a Stanley Cup? No, that ship may have sailed (I hope not but…meh). The Islanders have weakened even my eternal optimism with their run of maddening play over the last few months.

Next: Eastern Conference Power Rankings...Ouch

What I am saying is that there is a ton of talent on this team. It’s now obvious that this is the group that’s going to finish out the season and if the Islanders put forth the effort and play their tails off for the next dozen-and-a-half games and at least make one last push at things, it could bode very well for the future of this franchise.

Nobody wants John Tavares mulling over his future with the bad taste of what’s currently happening to his team in his mouth.