The New York Islanders have shocked the NHL world so far this season. There have been many key ingredients to the Islanders recipe this season which has led to great success.
Trotz from day one has preached about playing team defense. His daily quote is “playing the right way.” The players have bought in hook, line, and sinker.
Structure & Goaltending
Most of the roster was here last year when the team only finished last in the league in goals allowed and had the worst defensive numbers in the NHL in the last decade.
Trotz has been the captain of the ship and constantly preaching his message. The players have eaten up what the Stanley Cup coach has had to say and executed it on the ice.
The Isles now play with a relentless structure which emphasizes defense. Opponents opportunities are kept to the outside and rebounds are very limited. While the Isles have given up some offense in terms of the Trotz structure, but the results are clear.
Lehner and Thomas Greiss had a lot to prove entering this season. With the help of the new goalie coaching staff led by Mitch Korn, the Isles tandem between the pipes have been tremendous. Lehner has posted 18-9-4, 2.08 goals-against average, .929 save percentage. While Greiss has been equally impressive, 17-8-2, 2.20 goals-against, .930 save percentage.
According to Greiss, last season when teams broke into the Isles zone the opposition had five or six options. This year Islander opponents are usually limited to one option.
Great team defense has made life a different world for the Islanders goalie’s, which has given them the opportunity to shine.
20+ Deep & Staying Healthy
When one looks at the Islanders roster they say where are the superstars? Mathew Barzal is a budding star for sure but after that?
However, what the Isles do have is a very deep roster. They roll four forward lines and three defensive pairings, all of which get pretty equal ice time. There aren’t any weak links in this roster chain. Throw in the extra players that have suited up in Tom Kuhnhackl, Michael Dal Colle, and Josh Ho-Sang have contributed as well.
A deep roster also means no player is getting overused on a nightly basis. This allows the Isles players to be as fresh as possible night in – night out.
Throw in the fact the Isles have remarkable avoided long-term injuries for the most part. Andrew Ladd and Thomas Hickey are the only regulars that have missed significant time. Because of this, the Isles have been able to play their A-lineup on most nights.
Putting all these key ingredients in a blender and the result is one delicious smoothie, as the Islanders currently find themselves on top of the division.