Blog: Isles With A Chance To Separate From The Pack

So the new York Islanders have reached the thirty game mark and once again I’ll be looking at the standings from a percentage standpoint or pro-rated view to give you an idea about what will pan out for the Islanders for the duration of the season. So The standings for the Eastern Conference as of December 13th, 2017 look like this:

1. Tampa Bay Pace:126
2. Toronto 105
3. New Jersey 104
4. Columbus 103
5. Isles 101
6. Caps 100
7. Bruins 97
8. Rangers 96

9. Pens 90
10. Carolina 85
11. Philly 85
12. Montreal 79
13. Detroit 77
14. Florida 77
15. Ottawa 71
16. Sabres 58

So here is what I get out of the standings after 30 games: First, you can officially mark the Sabers out of any kind of playoff hunt. Second, If the Ottawa Senators don’t go on at least a three-game winning streak starting tonight against the Rangers, you can cross them off the list as well. Third, when I look at 10-14, I see a lot of underachieving as there should be at least 4-5 teams who should be on pace for at least 82 points. With Carey Price back, look for Montreal’s numbers to slowly improve, otherwise you could see the Panthers and Red Wings as early sellers this year. Fourth, Carolina and Philly are also underachieving, but this may be due to the division that they are in. I didn’t have either team making the playoffs, but it’s clear that despite being in one of the toughest divisions in the NHL, they’re on pace to be better then the rest of the non-playoff teams in the Atlantic.

Fifth, It’s looking like either the Rangers or Penguins will not be making the playoffs this year. I’m going to go with the Penguins sneaking in and here’s why: The Rangers started the season off with six points in their first 10 games. You could make the case that the Rangers bounced back from that slump and indeed, I do have the Rangers finishing between 95-100 points, but it took a lot of games to get them to this point and as of this writing, Henrik Lundquist is on pace to play 68 games this year. This reminds me of the Boston Bruins playing Tuuka Rask all season long just to make the playoffs and then fizzle in the first round. I dare you to lie to me and tell me that Lundquist is going to pull a Rask/Brodeur like season and get the Rangers to the playoffs. The Penguins will be getting Matt Murray back and with the emergence of Tristian Jarry and you have a solid goaltending duo who can get through the season and I never underestimate the Penguins making a move or two to making sure they get into the playoffs, and everyone better beware if they’re healthy to begin their run at a three-peat.

Sixth point: barring a complete meltdown, you’re probably looking at the three teams representing the Atlantic division in the playoffs. If things stay the same, you’re looking at a Toronto-Bruins first round matchup.

Seventh Point: The Devils refuse to go away. I don’t think they’ll be able to hold up this 104 point pace, but they’re not going to drop too much. The Capitals will make sure they give the Devils a run for third in the Metro.

Can Halak get back to being good and consistent?
As for the Islanders, this is where I had them at the beginning of the season, between 100-105 points. The question is where will that get them? The Isles have a few things going their way. First: they’ve only played 12 games at home, so despite being out on the road for most of this early season, they’re still on pace to where they need to be. They could be better with a little home cooking, but the biggest catalyst that could get the Islanders to a mark of 105-110 points is Jaro Halak. He’s been playing better of late, and seems to be taking over as the Isles number one goalie. Despite better goalie numbers than Thomas Greiss, Halak’s record is 9-7-1. He’s one more than half his games, which is what you want to see, but Halak really hasn’t stolen a point or two like Greiss has, which is clear by his 8-3-2 record. If Jaro Halak can get into a rhythm of good, consistent goaltending to go along with a nice home stand from the Isles as a whole, breaking that 105 point pace barrier is possible and then you can look deeper towards a division title.

Final point: Like in the Atlantic, barring a major plague to the team, the Isles should make the playoffs. You can relax on that part. If Halak gets it together, you could see the Isles take control over in the Metro while Columbus and New Jersey will try to keep pace and they should for most of the season. Keep Pittsburgh on your radars as they continue to get healthy and slowly overtake the Rangers. The Caps are also slowly doing their thing as they get healthier as well, but I’m not seeing them performing any better than 103 points. As for trades of any kind, I’m sure there will be more rumors going around as teams from the Atlantic begin to drop. Unfortunately for them, it may be sooner than later.


This article has 1 Comment

  1. The team we have all hoped for these past few years has finally arrived !! Three areas of importance are 1) goaltending 2) special teams 3) finding ways to win close hockey games. Islanders are in the best position in years with a solid hockey team as well as solid ownership. John Ledecky is a kind and caring owner who truly wants this franchise to succeed. My feeling is the team will win Belmont Park bid and build a state of the art arena and for many years of uncertainty stability with both a strong contending team and a permanent home will stabilize this storied franchise!! And John Ledecky will go down in history as the best owner in sports Always Believe…….

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