3 things on the NY Islanders holiday wish list

Edmonton Oilers v New York Islanders
Edmonton Oilers v New York Islanders / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages
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The 2023-24 season has brought intense highs and gut-punching lows to the NY Islanders as we are now in the holiday season. A team that looked unable to compete with some of the favorites in the Eastern Conference has turned their season around, taking points in 17 of the last 19 games and having the second-fewest regulation losses (8) among all teams in the East.

Though the Isles are currently getting the job done, a few things would help take them to the next level, making them a profound threat to teams like the Boston Bruins and NY Rangers. Here are three things on the Isles' wishlist this holiday season:

HEALTH

The adage goes, "The best ability is availability," and the Isles' defensive corps haven't been available since the get-go. Scott Mayfield took a shot off his foot on opening night, which started the train of injuries to the Isles top-4. Mayfield has since suffered another injury, along with Adam Pelech, who's on LTIR with no timetable to return, and Ryan Pulock has been on crutches with no timetable.

The additions of Mike Rielly and Robert Bortuzzo have been integral to the Isles' success, but adding those three names back to the everyday lineup is essential to the team's success through the second half of the season.

AN EMPTY NET GOAL

The Isles have had trouble closing out games in the third period all season, and tickling the twine while the opposition's goaltender is pulled would help them shut the door and see the numbers rack up in the win column instead of the OTL column.

The only team in the NHL without an empty net goal, you have to go back to March 27 of last year, when the Isles scored twice on an empty net - one from Bo Horvat and the other from Zach Parise, in a 5-1 victory over the NJ Devils.

ZACH PARISE

Empty net woes and a struggling penalty kill are dragging the Islanders down this season, and Parise could be the solution to both. Parise was one of the Isles' top penalty-killers last season and could be looking to return to the NHL at some point this season. There are reports he's been skating hard at his home in Minnesota, with Lou Lamoriello keeping the door open for the 39-year-old. Slotting Parise on the third line alongside JG Pageau and Simon Holmstrom would solidify the Isles' forward corps, giving them depth throughout the lineup.