In the offseason, the New York Islanders lost a super-star center in John Tavares and replaced him with four bottom six players in Valtteri Filppula, Leo Komarov, Matt Martin, and Tom Kuhnhackl. And the NHL media responded with an overwhelming shudder.
We all remember that Deadspin article that was absolutely glowing about the New York Islanders chances in 2018-19. I know I was sold that the Islanders wouldn’t be very good in 2018-19. Looking at the moves Lou made I was sure the New York Islanders weren’t going to be successful.
They’re still a long way from actually being successful this season, but with an 8-4-2 start and a seven-game point streak, the Isles are making a ton of noise. They even have good chances to make the playoffs.
According to MoneyPuck.com, the New York Islanders have a 66.41 percent chance of making the playoffs in 2018-19. It’s incredible what an early winning streak does to a season.
The way that Barry Trotz has single-handedly turned this random bunch of NHL players into a cohesive unit is incredibly impressive.
In 13 games Trotz has turned a defensive unit that allowed a league-worst 296 goals against in 2017-18, into a top-four defensive unit. And doing so while losing Calvin de Haan and adding Luca Sbisa mind-you.
In turn that’s helped flip the narrative on the Islanders goaltending. The Isles held the fourth-worst save percentage last season with an even 0.900SV%. So far this season they’re first with an incredible 0.931SV%. With Thomas Greiss and not qualifying offer worthy Robin Lehner in nets.
Along with that “tough to play against” style, and the New York Islanders are on their way to the playoffs. That’s right. The playoffs.
Thanks, Jim Mora. Yes, we’re talking about the playoffs. It’s early I know. With 13 games played there’s another 69 to go before the end of the season. A lot can happen then. But in September I didn’t think the playoffs would ever be on the Isles radar, so I’m taking full advantage of the opportunity to do so now.
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The Islanders find themselves atop the Metropolitan Division, but we should be wary of their early season results. New York is getting by despite poor underlying numbers, and sustained success will be hard to come by if this keeps this up.