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Islanders: Diminishing wins vs Sabres and Devils is ridiculous

UNIONDALE, NEW YORK - MARCH 07: Anders Lee #27 of the New York Islanders celebrates his second period goal against Jonas Johansson #34 of the Buffalo Sabres at the Nassau Coliseum on March 07, 2021 in Uniondale, New York. The Islanders defeated the Sabres 5-2. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
UNIONDALE, NEW YORK - MARCH 07: Anders Lee #27 of the New York Islanders celebrates his second period goal against Jonas Johansson #34 of the Buffalo Sabres at the Nassau Coliseum on March 07, 2021 in Uniondale, New York. The Islanders defeated the Sabres 5-2. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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The New York Islanders are the top team in the NHL at the moment. With 42 points from 29 games, the Isles sit at the top of the NHL by a single point. Carolina sits just behind the Islanders with 41 points in 27 games.

But there’s an argument made frequently online that the Isles aren’t a true top team because they’ve been able to beat up on the Devils and Sabres a number of times this year. While that’s certainly true, the Islanders are 11-1-0 against the Devils and Sabres, but why is that a bad thing?

But let’s be honest, the Islanders aren’t the only ones beating up on the bottom two teams in each division. Most of the division leaders are doing this.

New York Islanders record compared to other division leaders

Here’s how every division-leading team has done against the bottom two teams in their divisions. Again, you’ll notice that the Isles aren’t the only team to pick up points against the bottom teams:

Discover Central Divison*

Leader: Tampa Bay Lightning, Carolina Hurricanes, Florida Panthers
Bottom two teams: Dallas Star and Detroit Red Wings
Record: TBL 5-1-0, CAR 7-1-0, FLA 6-3-0
Pts%: 0.833, 0.875, 0.667

Scotia North Division

Leader: Toronto Maple Leafs
Bottom two: Vancouver Canucks and Ottawa Senators
Record: 6-4-1
Pts%: 0.591

Honda West Division

Leader: Vegas Golden Knights
Bottom two: San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks
Record: 7-1-0
Pts%: 0.875

MassMutual East Division

Leader: New York Islanders
Bottom two: New Jersey Devils and Buffalo Sabres
Record: 11-1-0
Pts%: 0.917

*There are three teams that could lead the Central on any given day so I’ve added all three.

Look, sure a 0.917 Pts% is great, but let’s not act like Carolina and Vegas’s 0.875 Pts% or Tampa’s 0.833 Pts% is somehow bad. The Islanders certainly benefit from going 11-1-0 against the bottom two teams in the East, but last time I checked top teams are supposed to beat the teams that are unfortunately at the other end of the spectrum.

What the Islanders are doing right now is quite special. Of course, they’re picking up points against the bottom-tier teams. That’s what they should be doing. That’s what any self-respecting contender should be doing right now.

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