How does the NHL’s latest plan to re-start the 2019-20 NHL season with an intradivisional regular season impact the New York Islanders?
The NHL desperately wants to continue the 2019-20 season. The thought of canceling the season doesn’t seem to be a factor at this moment. According to reports the NHL’s latest plan is for Metropolitan teams like the New York Islanders to congregate in Columbus or Raleigh to restart the season.
According to the New York Post, the league is considering intradivisional games to close out the regular season before going into the playoffs.
How would an intradivisional regular-season work for the Isles?
Through 68 games so far in 2019-20, the Islanders have played against divisional opponents 22 times with an 11-7-4 record. Here’s how it breaks down team-by-team:
The Rangers and Hurricanes were the only teams to have winning records against the Islanders so far this season. That could do well for the Islanders who are just outside of the playoff picture with 80 points from 68 games played. The Hurricanes and Blue Jackets are just ahead of the Isles with 81 points from 68 and 70 games played, respectively.
Of the remaining 14 games on the Isles schedule after the season was suspended only five were going to be against divisional rivals. Two games against the Devils, one against the Flyers, Penguins, and the Hurricanes.
The Islanders have done well against the Metropolitan Division this season, so perhaps a concentrated Metro schedule to close out the year could be a good thing for the Isles.
The Isles (along with the Hurricanes) have the fewest number of games played. While the Blue Jackets and Rangers have both played the most in the division with 70 games played. Getting a few more games to try and leapfrog Columbus and keep the Rangers at bay is another advantage for the Islanders.
With the suspension of the season, it’s given the Isles the chance to get back to full health. Casey Cizikas and Johnny Boychuk should both be back on the ice when/if the season gets back underway.
That alone is a huge boost for the Islanders. Getting Cizikas back reunites the Islanders identity line. No other team relies so much on their fourth line quite as much as the Islanders do. Getting Cizikas back gives the Isles the ability to roll four lines, a strategy that has yielded incredible results for the team in recent memory.
Getting Boychuk back returns the left-right balance that Barry Trotz likes to play. And it also means he won’t be forced to play Noah Dobson every night.
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We’ll see if this latest plan sticks for the NHL. While it sounds like a good idea it’s still filled with potential pitfalls. Like how do they assure everyone remains relatively quarantined? How do they ensure that players are frequently tested? And will the NHLPA go for it?
But for now, this latest proposal seems like it could be a good one for the New York Islanders.