With November coming to an end today, my second monthly report of the year is upon us. The Islanders went 8-3-1 in the month of November, and they currently sit in 2nd place in the Metropolitan division. As an Islanders fan, I’m perfectly content with where the team is at this part of the season. The Islanders lead the league in goals for, and every line is producing. This is the primary reason for their current win streak and success overall as of late.
Before I continue with all the positives for the month, there are a few questions the Islanders will have to answer if they want to continue towards the top of the division. Jaroslav Halak and Thomas Greiss have only been mediocre this season, and that’s all they’ve needed to be with the offense performing so well. However, what happens when the offense slows, and they need their goaltender to steal a game? If both goaltenders can start to play more consistently, the Islanders will be a serious cup contender, if they aren’t already.
Another question to ask is of the defense. Leddy, Boychuk, De Haan, and Pelech have all been solid this season. Pulock, Mayfield, Hickey, and Seidenberg have been rotating the final two spots on the back end. The rotation is a positive thing to keep players fresh, but Pulock should really become an every night defenseman this season. Hickey and Mayfield should rotate in and out of that sixth spot, while Seidenberg should really only play when there is an injury to one of the other seven defenseman.
Fortunately, Josh Ho-Sang has played well while back on the team from the AHL, and Alan Quine has made a return from injury. Since the offense has the most goals in hockey, I really shouldn’t complain, but… Jason Chimera should not play as much as he does. I would much prefer Quine playing. Chimera just hasn’t played all that great this year, and isn’t on track for the stats he had last year. He only has three assists and has played in all twenty-four games. (This is why a two-year contract with him was a mistake). We will see what Weight does, but as long as the team’s winning it’s hard to keep complaining.
Now enough of that… how about the Isles knocking off Tampa Bay and St. Louis this month. Both those teams are at the top of the NHL, and they were able to beat both of them comprehensively. The team continues to do an outstanding job of rebounding after a loss. For example, losing 5-0 in Dallas (that was embarrassing) and then going to St. Louis the next day and beating the Blues 5-2. How were the Islanders able to do this? Here’s three reasons why.
My first reason is the John Tavares line. Lee, Tavares, and Bailey have been a true top forward line this season, similar to last. John Tavares already has sixteen goals this season and Josh Bailey has twenty-three assists. Lee quietly has thirteen goals himself as well. This line has been on fire to start the season, and continues to lead the team offensively, but they aren’t the only ones.
This leads me to my second reason, the Barzal line. Everyone at the beginning of the year believed John Tavares and Jordan Eberle would be an outstanding duo because of their past and playing together. However, Barzal and Eberle have been the duo they were talking about. Along with Andrew Ladd, this line has been an outstanding follow up line to the Tavares line. (How about Andrew Ladd’s speed on that PK goal against Vancouver the other night?) Barzal uses his speed and amazing hands to find Eberle all over the ice. The two seem to be able to connect, and it’s allowing Barzal to make himself a “Rookie of the Year” candidate if he keeps it up.
The final reason for the Islanders recent success is Nick Leddy. Leddy has turned into everything and more than the Islanders could ask for. They definitely came out on top with that trade from the Blackhawks. Leddy is not only solid in the defensive end, but brings a threat offensively getting in on the play. Leddy is among the league leaders in points for defenseman with 20.
The Islanders look to continue their four game win streak into December with a game against the Ottawa Senators. Hopefully, the Islanders will be able to keep this great play up, and move into first in the Metropolitan division in December.
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