The New York Islanders defeated the new Jersey Devils last night by a score of 2-1. Since my last post the Isles have gone 1-1-2 and many fans are not happy with how the Isles have played. Writing for myself, I was hoping for a 4-0 run this past week. I was really expecting the Islanders in first place and have a really good buffer between the other teams who have struggled. Alas, the Islanders stay in third place in the Metropolitan Division and still ahead of last seasons pace of 101. So are you a glass half full or empty kind of fan. Let’s go over the relatively short season and find out.
If you’re a glass half full fan, then you’ll notice the positives. First off, the Isles record puts them on a pace for 107 points. Many did not pick the Islanders to win the division this year, so there’s no pressure of asking your team to play as such. The Islanders special teams has been exceptional ranking third on the power play and first in penalty killing in the entire league. The goaltending, particularly backup Thomas Greiss, has been exceptional. Teams like the Columbus Blue Jackets have put themselves in such a deep hole for the rest of this season that it may have made the Islanders chances of making the playoffs that much easier. Many will defend the Isles recent weekly stretch as “Making the playoffs is like running a marathon, not a race.”
If you’re a glass half full fan, you’re obviously the opposite. These were points the Islanders should have collected. With the points collected, the Islanders should be in first place, regardless of whether they win the division. How much longer will John Tavares be out because there will be zero chance without him. How many third period goals do we have to give up or how many games do we have to lose towards the end of a game before we fire this inept coach who is still able to keep his job because he’s a University of Maine guy, just like the GM (Yes, this is what I’ve read). Where is the “killer instinct” on this team. Frans Nielsen as first line center man is ludicrous. What has happened to the Islanders and their 5 on 5 play? I haven’t seen it all year. Why is Brian Strait still on this team?
So what does being a fan that’s glass is half full or half empty have to do with this season? Expectations. The Islanders started off this season with a difficult stretch of some very good western conference teams and came out with a winning record. Then this past four game stretch against some of the lower ranked Eastern Conference teams and the Islanders should’ve put some early expectations a little higher, but they couldn’t put it all together. They had a small window of opportunity to advance further, but couldn’t seize it. There was a reason why this team was kept together and not moved around like every other teams for moments in the season just like this. Indeed, even if the Isles didn’t win all four, they should have at least been closer or in first place, even for a day or two. there are many points on both sides that are correct and the Islanders themselves need to figure this out, which should have occurred already.
For those who say getting to the playoffs is like running a marathon and not a race, I would whole heartedly agree. However, having competed and won cross-country, 5k and 10k races, there are moments in the race where you not only pace yourself, but there are times when you need to break away from the rest of the packs. Thankfully, the Eastern Conference has taken a dip during this early season, needing only 89 points to qualify as of this post. It will probably take at least 95 to get in and the Islanders are still on a good point pace, but they needed a bigger buffer incase something dramatic does occur and points during the season slip away because of something like injuries or teams like last years Senators or Panthers make an unbelievable run and bump a team like the Bruins out of the playoffs. The Islanders now lack the drive to take over a stretch of games and control their own destiny. They can’t play underdogs anymore because they’re certainly not being taken for granted anymore. That Identity is gone unless they’re the away team. If the playoffs started today and the Isles split their first two games on the road, would they have it in them to take over a series when their next two games are home? Right now, I don’t think so and they’ll need that to make it the next round. Thank goodness this is a marathon and not a race.
Click on the link to follow me on Twitter: PK