The New York Islanders are absolutely a top team in the NHL and made a habit of beating the other top teams in the NHL last season.
It’s hard to convince people that the New York Islanders are a top team in the NHL. As the start of the 2021 season approaches more and more predictions and prognostications come out and most of them don’t have the Islanders as one of the top teams in the division let alone the league.
And I get it. On paper, the Islanders don’t exactly have a top tier looking team. Their top player is Mathew Barzal who finished a COVID shortened year on pace for 72 points. That doesn’t scream elite-level team.
But their record over the last two seasons says otherwise. With 150 games played since 2018-19, the Islanders are 83-15-17 for 183 points. That’s the seventh-best record in the entire league.
And now with a bit of digging, it seems the Isles are also pretty good against the toughest of opposition.
Best of the Best
Against arguably the best eight teams in the NHL, the New York Islanders hold the best record going 13-6-3 this season with a +6 goal differential.
In this case, the “top eight teams” in the NHL were derived by their point-percentages last season. Those teams are the Boston Bruins (.714), St Louis Blues (.662), Colorado Avalanche (.657), Tampa Bay Lightning (.657), Washington Capitals (.652), Philadelphia Flyers (.645), Pittsburgh Penguins (.623), and Vegas Golden Knights (.606).
I understand that at the end of the day you measure the most dominant team by their record and the Islanders 35-23-10 record in 2019-20 (eleventh in the NHL by point-percentage) isn’t what you would call “dominant”. But a healthy New York Islanders club clearly scares the top teams in the NHL.
Holding the seventh-best record in the NHL should be enough to convince anyone that the Islanders are a top team in the NHL. But of course, that’s never enough. The Isles are always going to be that hapless club from the ’90s to some.
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So while this new look at how dominant the Isles are against the best-of-the-best it won’t change some perceptions around the league even though it absolutely should.