The New York Islanders story for the 2018-19 regular season is one where they have played the role of Cinderella. However, what will the Isles playoff story be? The Islanders offense will determine their playoff story.
The preseason predictions for the New York Islanders were not kind, to say the least. Almost everyone said the Isles would be a bottom-five team this year. The Isles rallied as a group and it resulted in team success. Will their offense come along for the ride come the playoffs?
Remember those Wendy’s Hamburger commercials back in the day, “where’s the beef”? Well at times this season the same can be said for the Islanders offense.
Where’s The Offense
Going into the final game of the season versus the Washington Capitals, the Islanders scored one or fewer goals in 21 games (record of 2-19). That’s slightly over 25% of the regular season games. Ouch!
Conversely, when the blue and orange score at least three goals in a game this year, they have posted a 37-2-2 record. The numbers speak for themselves.
The Islanders going into their last game were 22nd in the NHL in goals scored at 2.72 per game. The only playoff team that was worse than the Isles in terms of scoring goals were the Dallas Stars.
Finally what has also led to the Isles lack of scoring has been how bad they have been on the power-play this season. The Isles rank 29th in the league (14.6%) in their first 81 games. However, the last couple of months the Isles power-play has been much worse than that. Very scary.
Blueprint for Success
Despite the lack of offense, the Islanders have a blueprint for success. That road map is team defense from everyone who suits up as well as strong goaltending. When the Isles get just enough offense on a given night it almost always has resulted in a win.
But can the Isles score enough come the playoffs? To quote Shakespeare that is the question.
The Isles have counted on their offensive production coming from a group of players this season. Having said that they need their best offensive players to step up. Obviously, this group includes Mathew Barzal, Brock Nelson, and their captain Anders Lee.
Having the defense jump in the offensive zone in the right situations could go a long way in terms of scoring. The Isles blueliners did this more in the second half of the season. Ryan Pulock, Devon Toews, and Nick Leddy are very capable of doing this.
The secret weapon for the Isles could be Jordan Eberle. Eberle has been hot lately and just maybe he can carry that into the playoffs. Can Eberle be this year’s Ray Ferraro who was a playoff hero back in the Spring of 93?
Finally, the power-play has to produce at a respectful level. No one is asking the Islanders to match the Tampa Bay Lightning power-play numbers, however, that unit has to contribute if the Isles are going to go on a playoff run.
The Islanders are capable of being a big story in this year’s NHL Playoffs. The bottom line is can they score enough.