The 5 biggest surprises in the first half of the NY Islanders season

Toronto Maple Leafs v New York Islanders
Toronto Maple Leafs v New York Islanders / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages
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Special Teams

Everything we assumed about the Islanders' special teams this season has been wrong. The power play would be better because how could it not be? But no one expected it to be this dangerous and efficient.

The Islanders currently have the 8th best power-play in the league (25%) after finishing 30th (15.8%) last season. To put things even further in perspective, the team has already scored 28 power-play goals this season after scoring only 35 last year, which was tied for the fewest in the league.

A full season of Bo Horvat occupying the bumper position on the power-play has made a world of difference. The team is moving the puck faster and more decisively, while Noah Dobson has become one of the better power-play quarterbacks in the league. That, along with Mathew Barzal's ability to gain the offensive zone and create space, has made their power play a force this season.

Simon Holmstrom
Anaheim Ducks v New York Islanders / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

Meanwhile, the penalty kill has struggled since the beginning of the season and hasn't yet fully recovered. You may recall the team allowing four power-play goals to the New Jersey Devils at home back in October. It was viewed as an anomaly, but it would serve more as an indicator of what was to come. The Isles have already allowed 33 power-play goals this season after surrendering 39 all of last year. They were particularly strong at home, allowing just 11 goals; that number is already 14.

Outside of a few stretches, it has been their most consistent weakness. While defenseman Scott Mayfield, Adam Pelech, and Ryan Pulock have all missed significant time this season, it's hard to pin the poor results on that. They've struggled to kill penalties regardless of who has been out there.

However, one thing that has offset the penalty kill woes is the team's ability to score short-handed. Simon Holmstrom has been a revelation and has scored a remarkable five SHG this season, and the team has eight overall, which is the fifth most in the league.

If the Isles are able to maintain their power play prowess while turning around their penalty kill, they'll put themselves in a strong position to claim a playoff spot.