After an up-and-down start to the season, the Islanders can move into first place in the Metropolitan Division with a win against the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight.
The Islanders have impressed thus far, tallying a 4-0 record against divisional opponents (this has not been done since 1982-83) and finishing a brutal road-heavy start to the season 6-4-1. Eight out of the 11 games played were on the road, including a California trip. Not to mention, the Islanders have battled two of the elite teams in the NHL, the Sharks and Predators, a total of four times.
Their impressive play has caught the attention of national media. The NHL ranked the Islanders 15th in their weekly power rankings, surprising many casual fans that were unaware of the team’s early success.
Excitement is building up amongst a fanbase craving success. Players and fans alike are buying into the new era, one which has featured a changed dialogue surrounding the team. Barry Trotz has developed a winning culture, and his message has remained positive throughout the year.
“Home or away, we just have to establish our game. Islander hockey. What does that mean to us and what does that represent? And other teams will let us know what our identity is, too, because they’ll be talking about it. We have a plan going in every game. We’re looking for ways to win every game and we’re going to try and win every game. That’s the mentality we want, home or away.”
Advanced statistics, including Corsi Percentage, are not favoring the Islanders, and many analysts are calling their success unsustainable. Players like Valtteri Filppula and Leo Komarov have gotten lucky, frequently on the ice for flurries of shots against, but capitalizing on scoring chances.
However, certain statistics give hope that the Islanders are in fact playing the correct brand of hockey. They are scoring goals, hitting, and getting average goaltending, something that was not the case last season.
— Pete Jensen 🏒 (@NHLJensen) October 31, 2018
Tonight, with a hard-fought, 60-minute game, the Islanders can prove people wrong once again and take control of a packed Metropolitan Division. While it is still early into the season, Barry Trotz has ingrained grit and heart into his roster, and there is promise that the Islanders can continue to surprise if they keep up their winning ways.
John Tavares may be gone. The Islanders might have a bad team on paper. The injury bug is starting to hit.
But it does not matter. The Islanders are winning hockey games.
- Thomas Greiss will start in net while Robin Lehner recovers from a back strain. Chris Gibson has been recalled to back-up Greiss.
- Cal Clutterbuck will return to the lineup, replacing Tom Kühnhackl, who was sent down to Bridgeport.
- Luca Sbisa will once again not play in tonight’s game. He has not played since the Islanders October 17th loss in Anaheim.
- Use code “drive4five” on SeatGeek for $20 off tickets to tonight’s game!