Despite Slugish Run, Isles Still Prevail

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From a percentage view, the Islanders have the second best record in the Eastern Conference by going 21-10-0, good for 42 points. The Islanders are the only team without out an overtime/shootout loss this year, but it’s been in recent games the Islanders have looked sluggish, to say the least. In the last 5 games the Isles have a 2-3 record, allowing 22 goals in that span. The loss of Travis Hamonic and Johnny Boychuck has certainly not helped their cause, but the Islanders had leads in two of those three losses and couldn’t close the door. Even their last game against the New Jersey Devils, they admitted they were sluggish. So why are the Islanders sluggish to the point that their team as a whole has only averaged 2 periods per game of actual playing? Is it really all the penalty kill, Brian Strait, Josh Bailey and Chad Johnson’s fault?

If you go back to the last 13 games the Isles have played, the Islanders record is 9-4-0. Quite a few fans will say that record should’ve been 11-2-0. They may have a valid point as I stated above, but the Islanders have played all of those games in 25 days, that’s less than 2 days apart! If fans thought November was going to be a rough one, this had all the makings of a complete collapse. But it didn’t happen. For me, the last 13 games were a bigger test than November. Why? Because this doesn’t get any closer to a playoff-like schedule than it does right now, and the Islanders passed with flying colors. Yes, there are some holes that need to be addressed, but with the injuries that have occurred and the type of schedule that the Isles just went through, fans can count their blessings for the amount of talented depth the Islanders currently have, because this could have been a lot worse.

Look at some of the post game videos of some of these players, they’re absolutely exhausted. The practices have been optional for many of the players and yet the Islanders are still in the top 6 in the NHL. Why haven’t some of the top players produced? Try playing other teams top players everyday and see how well you do. This was a “grind it out” type of schedule and it was a total team effort to get where they are now. With a little bit of a break, should Isles fans expect to see a rebound from a few of the players? I would. How much of a help will it be when Travis Hamonic and Johnny Boychuck return? I don’t think you’ll see collapses like fans have lately seen.

Yes the Islanders backup, Chad Johnson, has been in a terrible funk; all I have to do is mention Brian Strait and Josh Bailey and my twitter account blows up, the penalty killing unit hasn’t changed and that’s not good, but with looks to be the toughest stretch of games now completed in the shortest amount of time, as an Islanders fan, I’m thinking big. With the kind of winning in a playoff-like schedule to go along with a “Fort Never Lose” record of 12-3 at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, it feels like a long playoff run is about to happen. The Islanders have 6 games left in 16 days to finish up the month of December. There will be more practice time and more importantly, more rest for a team that just went through maybe their toughest stretch of the season. They will already know how to handle that kind of adversity when they have to go through that again in the playoffs. If they can duplicate what they just accomplished, the Isles could be playing well into May.

Notes: Grabner is back on the IR and Griffin Reinhart was sent down to Bridgeport