So, who are these 2013 New York Islanders? So far, they appear to be an offensive minded team. They lead their division in goals with 18 in 5 games. They score in bunches. Are they an offensive juggernaut?
Well, time to slow down a bit. It’s been great to see the team get some secondary and tertiary scoring. You’ve got players starting to make names for themselves, such as David Ullstrom and recent waiver wire acquisition Keith Aucoin. They’ve been fortunate on several goals, but sometimes hard work and being in the right place at the right time is perceived as luck. On the flip side you’ve got a first line that hasn’t quite gelled but has put up some numbers.
First line mates John Tavares, Matt Moulson, and Kyle Okposo are a combined -5 with 15 points in 5 games. They are scoring, but need to tighten up on defense. The entire team seems to be taking too many chances on offense, and it is creating problems on defense. Captain Mark Streit is already a -5 on his own. Is it him? Are his partners bringing him down? Is it s system flaw?
They need to buy into a defensive plan and play a more physical style of play across the board. Okposo needs to step it up The looming question for him is: Where will he go if he’s not first line? With Josh Bailey and Jesse Joensuu coming back he needs to step up his game. He may be trade bait should he not pick things up.
The team isn fortunate to be where they are. When they are at their worst, they give up the zone too easily, often have a hard time clearing the puck, and get stood up at the opposing teams blue line. Mix this into a few offensive outbursts and you have the season to date.
Outside of a couple shaky goals, the goaltending has been excellent. The defense has left a lot to be desired, and as a team the team defense has been shoddy. If they can keep the offense going and shore up the defense, they’ve got a chance to make an early push for a playoff spot. With two tough games coming up against Pittsburgh and New Jersey, now is the time to show up for 60 minutes and prove that they are maturing as a team. Holding a lead would be a good start.