Turn back the clock to September for a minute.
Before a time when the New York Islanders were blowing third-period leads and Ilya Sorokin had a 3.19 GAA (goals against average), your number one, two and three concern was the power play.
If the Isles only had an average power play, you said to yourself, they would be a playoff team after scoring a league-worst 35 power-play goals last season, converting only 15.8% of the time. They were even worse in their six-game playoff series versus the Carolina Hurricanes, going just 1-for-18.
Well, the Islanders' power play hasn't been average; it's been well above that. Through 25 games, the Isles PP is ranked sixth in the league (26.1%) and has already scored 18 goals this season, more than half of their total last season.
When you look at this most recent stretch, the numbers jump out even more. Over their last five games, the power play has gone 6-for-14; that's an eye-popping 42.8%, and since Nov. 15, they are converting 38.7% of the time (12-of-31), which is best in the NHL.
What's changed? 24-year-old defenseman Noah Dobson has evolved into a true quarterback with the man advantage, while Bo Horvat's presence and the inclusion of Kyle Palmieri have made a significant difference over last season. The puck's movement has been fast, crisp, and decisive. Mathew Barzal has been used more as a shooting option but has also been able to find space and remain creative at the left circle.
Last night vs. Columbus, the PP needed only 16 seconds to finish and extend the team's lead to 4-2 heading into the third period. “That was a heck of a play by Barzy and Brock and Palms to bang one in early,” Horvat said. “It was a really pretty tic-tac-toe play. It’s fun right now.”
It's fun for the players and fun for the fans, who have longed to watch a power play that is not only no longer a detriment but one that provides the team an advantage each night.