Now that the Isles have played in 24 games this year, it’s time for a mid season assessment. Before I continue, I don’t do grades for a mid season. In the end you either passed (playoffs) or failed (no playoffs). The point of this mid season assessment is to see where the Isles have come from the previous season and what is needed for a passing grade. Let’s begin.
Comparing the Isles to their first 24 games from last season, there is some slight improvement in their overall record. Last year the Isles went 8-11-5 for 21 points. This year we have a 10-11-3 for 23 points. Most fans may agree that this year’s record could have been better with a few bounces going the Islanders way, but it is what it is. Last year the Isles had 52 goals scored compared to this year’s 71, so forget about the secondary scoring for a moment. That’s a 19 goal improvement and they only have 2 more wins to show for it? Let’s flip to the other side of the coin.
Defensively the Isles gave up 78 goals through their first 24 games last year. Ironically, this years Islanders team has given up 80! That’s a -2 goal difference folks and after a 7-0 butt whipping by the hands of the Flyers and Rick DiPietro was in net for a few games. That combo is about as bad as fans wanted to start the season and the results are not that far off from last year.
So what is it about this year’s team that’s driving its fans into therapy (again, or still)? They’re basically the same team they were last year, plus or minus a few players. Same owner (ha-ha, yes you’re frowning), same coach, same special adviser to the GM etc, same loyal fan base. What is it? Maybe it’s because the Islanders are sitting on the cusp of a playoff berth halfway through a season because teams from last year are different and not as good. Most analysts had the Islanders in 15th to finish the season, yet here they are with a real shot and Islanders fans know it. They want so badly for their team to make it in, to get some kind of relevance and dignity and to be rewarded for their patience during a rebuild of their entire organization (For your own mental health, leave the owner out of this topic, he’s still losing money and won’t spend unless it’s necessary).
After 48 games last year, the Islanders went 19-22-7. That’s 11-11-2 after the first 24 games. Do I think the Isles can play better that an NHL .500 for the remainder of this season, yes I do. Do I think other teams are going to struggle to make the playoffs? Yes I do. So what’s needed for a passing grade, to make it to the playoffs? Like I said here from my season preview, the players themselves need to believe in themselves and gain confidence. It really is up to them. Radek Martinek said the key to winning the game against Montreal was confidence at his on ice interview and the lack of both was evident in the loss to the Rangers when they scored in the third period. This is a team walking on egg shells because they badly want to win for their fans and they eventually will win consistently. Coming up on my next article will the Islanders be buyers or sellers? Leave a comment and give your opinion on whether your team should be buyers or sellers at the trade dealing.
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