Let’s embrace debate. Which recent playoff team was better, the 2014-2015 New York Islanders or the 2015-2016 version?
During the summer months, I often find myself pondering about hypotheticals with the New York Islanders. I’m not saying it’s healthy, or even sane, but that’s probably why I’m able to come up with things to write about this team on a daily basis.
Anyway, it’s been over a week since the Islanders signed anyone of note, no offense to Jared Coreau but he doesn’t move the needle. It’s also now been over a calendar year since the Islanders have made a trade so the boredom is real out there on Isles Twitter.
I was thinking about the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 seasons today which sparked me to tweet this out.
There have been nearly 300 votes and it’s an extremely close race. What prompted me to think of this question is because a little over a year ago I wrote something saying the 2014-2015 Islanders were the team that should’ve went for it, and I still buy that logic.
Now, both teams were honestly very similar. In 2014-2015 the Islanders finished with 101 points, good enough for second place while the next year they finished with 100 points but was fourth in the Metro.
Even though that second year the Islanders went further in the playoffs (hello second round of the playoffs for the first time since 1993) the roster of the 2014-2015 was better. I would be #Team2014-2015 in this debate.
Josh Bailey, Anders Lee, Brock Nelson, Frans Nielsen, Ryan Strome, Kyle Okposo, and John Tavares all finished with 40 or more points. That’s seven guys over the 40 point mark, with a fantastic Jaroslav Halak in net that year.
Halak went 38-17-4 with a .914 save percentage and a 2.43 goals against average. He set the franchise record for wins that year. Yes, the Tyler Kennedy’s, Nikolai Kulemin’s and Cory Conacher’s still made their way on the Tavares line but for the most part, the Isles clicked both offensively and defensively.
As we know, they eventually lost a very tough Game 7 to Barry Trotz and the Washington Capitals. Honestly, it’s a miracle the 2015-2016 team made it as far as they did. They were not nearly as good.
They had just five guys with 40 or more points and rough years from Anders Lee, Josh Bailey, and Ryan Strome. Strome, who was a big piece to the Islanders success the year before was essentially a non-factor in 2015-2016 and Josh Bailey was peak “bad Josh Bailey”.
Nikolai Kulemin, who had just 22 points that year, was a regular in the Islanders top-six come playoff time. Shane Prince and Alan Quine were relied upon to score big goals for this team. It worked, thanks to mostly John Tavares and Thomas Greiss but they were not nearly as talented as they were the year prior.
Defensively, Travis Hamonic and Johnny Boychuk took a step back while Halak wasn’t the same player and got hurt in March of that year.
So even though the 2016 team finished with just one less point and went further, the consensus is that 2015 was the better team. At the time of writing this, 55 percent of fans agree with me according to the poll.
If the 2015 Islanders showed up for Game 7 in 2015 there’s no doubt in my mind they are going to at least the Eastern Conference Final. They owned the Rangers in 2015 and would’ve handled them swiftly in the second round.
July is the perfect time to debate these kinds of topics. If you have any ideas, throw them at us on twitter @eyesonislesfs and we’ll debate them with you on there and maybe even on the site too.