Would Any Isles Fan Have Expected This?

What a sweater...
What a sweater…

15-6…

Best start in franchise history…

Stellar offense…

Best goaltending in the Pre-Groin pull Rico era…

2nd and 3rd year players making monster strides…

With those types of statements you would normally be thinking Bruins, Hawks, Kings, Penguins…

New York Islanders???

Yes!  Yes!  Yes!

You are reading that right.  I guarantee, there are  a great number of people that drink the cool-aid, and would say they thought this would happen… But I know that no ‘expert’ saw THIS coming.

And it all comes back to a day in late September.  A Saturday morning – that many thought would be a ho-hum day.  Days before the start of the season, and as a matter of fact, I was having my Hockey Fantasy draft that morning.  One of the participants, needing some defensive help at the end of the draft, selected Johnny Boychuk, and Nick Leddy as his last two picks.

When he picked those two guys, they were members of the Bruins, and BlackHawks respectively.

30 minutes later, they were Blue and Orange strong…

Instantly, the relevance of this team became a great deal clearer.

Once the season began, most of Islander country were quite happy of these two pickups; the Goalies?  Not so much.

However, I knew from past performances, that Jaro Halak starts slowly, and builds up as the season progresses.

After the slow start, three shutouts in the last 8 games.  The save percentage up from .889 to .922; the GAA down from over 3, to 2.2.

Yes, Chad Johnson has not be stellar, but has got the team wins, and done the right things at the right time.

As for the offense, what can you say about the play of Ryan Strome and Brock Nelson…  They have upped their game to a new level, and it is most appreciated by the faithful.  Some in my section wanted to see #18 demoted a few weeks ago.  I told them at the time, Strome was among the league leaders in 5 on 5 dishes.  The goals would come, and he is fearless in the dirty areas.

The goals did start coming, and his play elevated even more.

As for Mr. Nelson – averaging a point a game.  Some just thought that the Minnesota native would not come up to much.  But our beloved GM saw something the year that JT was drafted, and poof, sparks are flying this year.

And when you are a good team, like the Isles are right now – you get contributions from other players when the stars are not at the top.  Enter the fourth line.  Casey Cizikas has been a great tool lately, along with Matt Martin and Cal Clutterbuck.  It is going to make the decision of what to do when Michael Grabner returns such a hard one to make…

JT will be JT when it is all said and done.  Don’t go crazy because he is not a point or two behind Mr. Crosby.  He will get there… winners always do.

I am so glad that Matt Donovan finally saw some game action last night.  It is a terrible shame what he has had to endure.  However, he has done it with style, and maturity, and he played a strong 16 minute game last night.  Will he return to the lineup tomorrow when Washington comes acalling?  We will see.

To tell you, I was hoping that at the 21 game mark, that 22 points would be a good sign, especially with the November swoon this team has had in the past.

30 points?  No way would I have expected that in my wildest dreams…

I will take it.  Now it is up to Cappy and the boys to keep it up.  Yes, there will be some slip ups and a downer game here and there.  That must be expected.  But continue the drive forward with the skills and the expectations, and we will definitely see some springtime hockey this season.

To talk about this – please comment below, or send a tweet to @islessection317.  Have a great day in Islander Country.

 

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