I don’t think anyone around the league predicted the Islanders becoming an offensive juggernaut this year. Tavares was expected to be a point per game player, but two months into the season, even though he is averaging a point per game, he’s not even our leading scorer. As of December 6th, the Islanders hold the third seed in the metropolitan division, two points behind the Devils. They also sit at 10th in the entire NHL. However, only a deeper dive into the Islanders statistics thus far will tell a more accurate story of the Islanders place among the other 30 NHL teams.
The Islanders have played 27 games. The entire first line of Bailey, Tavares, and Lee has averaged at least a point per game. By the end of last season, no Islander averaged a point per game. They have scored the second most goals in the entire league, only one less than Tampa Bay. They also have the league’s seventh best power play percentage at 21.7%. So far, it seems like putting the puck in the net has not been an issue for the Isles.
Unfortunately, the goal scoring may dwindle eventually. The Islanders have only taken 844 shots on goal this year, 20th in the NHL. That means that they are scoring many goals on few shots. More often than not, high shooting percentages fall over the course of a season. They are not putting themselves in a good place to score few goals as well. They have allowed and average of 3.33 goals per game, third worst in the league. They share the company of Buffalo, Florida, and Arizona down there. Greiss and Halak also have a combined .898 save percentage, seventh worst in the league. Both goalies have shown periods of brilliance as well as incompetence, but unless one proves to be inconsistent, the Islanders won’t go far come April. The penalty kill has also gotten much worse since the end of October. They currently sit 28th in the league at 75%. Defense wins championships, and the Islanders need to find some if they want to have any chances at a deep playoff run this spring.
Things are on the upswing though. The Islanders picked up big wins against strong teams during the month of November including against St. Louis and Tampa Bay. They ended the month on a four game winning streak as well. However, in 7 of 12 games, the Islanders allowed three or more goals. The Islanders continue a four game road trip on Thursday in Pittsburgh before playing Washington, Los Angeles, Winnipeg (twice), and Columbus throughout the month. Look for players like Johnny Boychuk and Calvin de Haan to step up on defense. Hopefully that will lead to stronger goaltending and play overall by the time 2018 comes around.