The narrative all year about the New York Islanders has been mostly negative, even as they have been incredibly successful on the ice. Before and after the trade deadline more doubt has been raised. It is time to end this nonsense and buy into this team as a true contender.
The New York Islanders had a five-game win streak in October/November, including back-to-back statement wins against the perennial contender Pittsburgh Penguins.
They had a six-game win streak in December/January, including an emotional 4-0 absolute beatdown of the much-hyped Maple Leafs and their new prized free agent signing in their own arena.
They beat the hands-down best team in the NHL, the Tampa Bay Lightning, 5-1 in January. Five days later they beat the Stanley Cup champion Capitals on their home ice in another emotional game on the way to another five-game winning streak.
They reached first place in the Metro, and have held it for longer than anyone expected, and yet all the talk was about what they needed to add at the trade deadline.
But oh no, they need a scorer!
The Isles are
. That’s plenty of goals being scored when you’re also
for both goals against average and save percentage.
They will end the season with eight players with 15 of more goals (5 already do), and most of those eight players will end up with 20 or more. That’s a lot of scoring – just more balanced.
But oh no, they need a #1 defenseman!
Again, the team is #1 in the league in goals against and 11th in shots against. Stop criticizing and let’s look at what this crop of blueliners has been able to accomplish.
Consider this – the New York Islanders have two players on their entire roster who have a negative +/-. Mat Barzal (-10) and Jordan Eberle (-7). That’s it. Not one defenseman has a negative +/-. Not one.
But oh no, the power play!
Yep, it needs to improve, but that hasn’t held the team back from winning so far. A better power play is a bonus if they can get there.
Yes, they are only 8-6 after the All-Star break with a few bad losses. But surely what they have accomplished overshadows the few bad games, right? It has to. Even the Lightning have off nights (Isles beat them once and it took them until OT to beat us the second try in a scoreless regulation).
Hopefully last night’s dismantling of the Leafs, for the second time, now assuages any doubt you may have had about this team being a real cup contender. It’s time to come to terms with the fact that the Isles are no longer the lovable losers. They are winning intense, emotional games. That is what the playoffs look like.
The Isles are a first-place team with balanced scoring, strong team defense and phenomenal goaltending playing under a Stanley Cup-winning coach. If you can’t see that this team is a contender, it may be time to switch to spring training baseball.