After losing in seven games to the Washington Capitals in the first round of the playoffs last season the New York Islanders are looking to improve upon their previous success. Even though the season hasn’t started out the way they wanted, losing back-to-back games to the defending champions before notching their first W against a floundering Winnipeg team, the Islanders are still a legitimate threat to represent the east in the Stanley Cup.
But that was not always the case. Go back two years and you see an Isles’ team with a patchwork defense, no offensive pop outside of their top line, and don’t even get me started on their goal-tending *cough* Rick Dipietro *cough*. Now jump back to present day. With the additions of Johnny Boychuk, Nick Leddy, and most recently Marek Zidlicky, the New York Islanders finally have a solid blue line. Offensively speaking, John Tavares and Kyle Okposo are continuing to tear it up, but the young guns such as Anders Lee, Brock Nelson, and Ryan Strome have been lighting the lamp as well. The scorers have been scoring and the role players have been well role-ing.
On May 1, 2014 New York Islanders General Manager Garth Snow sent a fourth round pick to the Washington Capitals for goalie Jaroslav Halak. Halak, was then subsequently signed to a four year 14 million dollar contract. This was a head scratching move not only for the Islanders’ fan base, but for the hockey community as a whole. Halak had been traded two previous times that season, from St. Louis to Buffalo and then Buffalo to Washington. His psyche was shattered as he made his way to Long Island. Halak was a reclamation project for Snow and the Isles’, but he has proved to everyone that he is a more than capable goalie. He has returned to the form that made the Montreal Canadiens think long and hard about trading Carey Price before eventually sending Halak to the Blues. Halak posted .914 save percentage and a goals against average of 2.43 last season as he lead the Islanders to third place in the Metropolitan Division.
It’s no secret that the New York Islanders have all the pieces in place for a deep trek into the playoffs, but just how far can they go? The Metropolitan Division is stacked this season with the Rangers, Capitals, Penguins, and the Blue Jackets all vying for a playoff spot. I believe the Islanders make it out of the division as a two seed and make their way to the Eastern Conference Final before falling to the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Islanders are a team that continues to improve and are not too far off from hoisting the Cup.