3 keys to the NY Islanders having a strong start to the 2022-23 season

New York Islanders v New York Rangers
New York Islanders v New York Rangers / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages
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The New York Islanders start to the 2022-23 regular season is less than a week away. It's hard to believe! We made it through another summer (and most of the spring, unfortunately) without hockey. Last year the Isles got off to a poor start and, despite their best efforts, could never recover.

New York Islanders Training Camp
New York Islanders Training Camp / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

After an 11-game winless streak, the math was so daunting that even the most ardent supporters knew that a season that started with so much promise had turned into over half a season where Islanders pride was more on the line than a chance at making the Stanley Cup playoffs.

With the memory of a lost season still fresh in the minds of players and fans, a strong start is imperative if the Islanders are going to prove that last season was a blip and find their way back into the postseason. Here are 3 keys to having a strong start this season.

Take advantage of an early home schedule

San Jose Sharks v New York Islanders
San Jose Sharks v New York Islanders / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

The good news is the Islanders don't start the year on a ridiculous road trip. Quite the opposite as they open the season with a four-game homestand. They start the season at UBS Arena against Flordia, Anaheim, San Jose, and New Jersey.

No reason coming out of the gates the Isles should have a very good start after those four home games. Sounds silly but those four home games are big as the rest of October the Islanders have a road game against Tampa Bay and Florida (in a back-to-back situation) as well as Carolina.

The Islanders also have their 5th and 6th home games late in October against the NY Rangers (the only time the Blue Shirts play at UBS Arena in the regular season) and the defending champs, the Colorado Avalanche.

Islanders need to break out of the gates strong and then hold their own against the top teams they play late in October. The schedule eases up a little bit come early November but with so much parody in the NHL these days no game is an easy win.

The Isles must learn from their poor start last season and come out of the gates strong and start 2022-23 from a position of strength.

Don't fall behind in the standings early

Ottawa Senators v New York Islanders
Ottawa Senators v New York Islanders / Sarah Stier/GettyImages

The Islanders should have learned last season that a bad start will most likely add up to too big of a mountain to climb. Last season the Islanders found themselves with a 5-10-5 record come early December.

The 13-game road trip to start the season (to give UBS Arena extra time for its grand opening) and the stretch where the Isles lost numerous players to Covid put them behind the eight-ball. The Isles did play better from that point on, finishing the season with 84 Points (37-35-10), but it was well shy of the last spot in the playoffs (Washington Capitals was the 8th seed with 100 Points).

It appears the Eastern Conference is now even more difficult than last year.

All eight playoff teams from the East believe they can return to the postseason once again this season. In addition to the Islanders believing they can return to their top-form and be a playoff team once again, the Ottawa Senators (Alex DeBrincat, Cam Talbot, Claude Giroux) and the Columbus Blue Jackets (Johnny Gaudreau) have high hopes as well with their off-season moves.

That's 11 teams for 8 spots and that's assuming there isn't a surprise team from the East that no one is currently considering. The Eastern Conference is a beast so falling behind in the standings to start the season is a recipe for disaster.

Earn the second point

Pittsburgh Penguins v New York Islanders
Pittsburgh Penguins v New York Islanders / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

Another reason it's so hard to catch up after a poor start is all the overtime games.

Once overtime hits, there will be three team points handed out. When a team is behind in the standings even when they win, and a team they are trying to catch loses but it's in overtime, then they only pick up one point in the standings. That's part of the reason why it's a tough mountain to climb.

Compounding the problem was that the Islanders were awful in the extra session and overtime in 2021-22. The Isles were 3-10 in games that went to overtime and only 2-6 in the shootout with an inept shooting % leaving no margin of error for their goaltenders. Every point will be crucial and picking up the second point, especially in games versus the Eastern Conference will loom large.