2012-13 was a season of declaration for the New York Islanders. They proved to the league that they are a playoff team, with its better days ahead.
Captain, and franchise player John Tavares took a huge step forward, getting nominated for the Hart Trophy. And the Islanders gave the Stanley Cup favourite Pittsburgh Penguins a run for their money in the 1st round of the playoffs. It was a strong season for a team on the rise, but failing to carry that momentum into this year could place a damper on plans to re-establish the Islanders as one of the league’s best teams.
What They Got Going For Them
Jonathan Tavares is definitely the main thing the New York Islanders have going for them at the moment. Possessing one of the best players in the league is usually a good start when trying to earn respectability.
Tavares finished 3rd in goals scored last season with 28. Anyone who’s ever watched him play knows his numbers were no fluke. So, the Islanders are strong at 1st line centre with John Tavares.
A strong supporting staff of young, enthusiastic forwards ensures the Islanders will be tough to beat in 2013-14. Matt Moulson leads a cast of Tavares supporting staffers that will score their fair share of goals and play at a quick pace. They will be tough to handle.
What They Don’t Have Going For Them
Between the pipes the Islanders leave much to be desired. Aging Evgeni Nabokov and NHL veteran of 21 games, Kevin Poulin, make up what is likely the most question marked goaltending situation in the National Hockey League coming into this season.
With goaltending acting as one of the most crucial positions in hockey, things could go wrong in the cage for the Islanders. However, there is lots of time to bring in another keeper. Not to mention, either Nabokov, Poulin, or the combination of them both could perform above expectations and prove everyone wrong. The beauty of NHL hockey is that you never know what’s going to happen until the games are played.
It will be a lot more difficult to make the playoffs this season than it was last. The Islanders are in a division with some tough opponents, only three of which are guaranteed a spot in the playoffs. The New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals will be strong opposers to the top 3 placements.
Plus, the Philadelphia Flyers are aiming for a bounce back season with former Islanders’ defenceman Mark Streit addressing their main weakness last season on the blue line.
Also, the New Jersey Devils and Carolina Hurricanes possess better teams than people give them credit for. Either one could make a strong push for a spot in the Metropolitan’s top 3, or a position ahead of the Islanders in any potential wild card race.
The Columbus Blue Jackets showed signs of life last season. They barely missed the playoffs in the Western Conference by way of tiebreaker. They pose as an unknown element in the playoff race that will develop in the Metropolitan Division throughout the course of the season.
Making The Playoffs Again Is Huge For The Up And Coming Islanders
In order to prove to themselves, as well as, their fans, that last season was no fluke, it is crucial the New York Islanders find a way to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2013-14.
The Islanders have exceptional team speed acting as their strongest advantage over bigger, more veteran opponents in the conference. The effective use of their quickness will cause trouble for competition on a nightly basis. If their offence can continue producing the way it did in the second half of 2013, they will win a good chunk of hockey games.
The New York Islanders are good enough to make the playoffs for a second straight season. In doing so, they can further repair the damage done to a fan base that grew up on Dynasties and Stanley Cups, yet, hasn’t had much to cheer about in thirty years.