A little bit over the halfway point of the NHL season leaves the Islanders in a unique spot. The final placement for teams in the division is going to go down to the wire.
In the second half, more is at stake. Every two points are essential. The Islanders cannot afford to take any nights off. With the Islanders having as much time off as they did, they might start a little slow out of the gate; however, in the long run, the Islanders benefit significantly from the time off. The Islanders are an extremely hardworking team, having to grind for every goal. The Islanders do not score easily and have to work extremely hard for each goal. The fans witnessed the Islanders’ fatigue and exhaustion, slowing them down at the end of the first half. Now, with the extra rest, the Islanders have gotten the team will most likely have an easier time succeeding.
We have seen in the past teams that looked like they were in contention for winning the draft lottery have a fantastic second half and make the playoffs. Remember the St. Louis Blues just last year? A win in the first half is way easier than a win in the second half. What’s important is that the Islanders return to their early success in the second half. The team is closer in points to organizations outside the playoffs than teams at the top like the Washington Capitals and Boston Bruins.
So much success in hockey is built off momentum, and the Islanders can attest to that. When the Islanders get hot, their usually hot for a while, and the team is dangerous. The unfortunate thing is that when it rains, it pours. When the Islanders are out of sync, they’ll lose and lose badly. Relating to that, a troubling pattern with the Islanders this first half has been they tend to play down to their opponents’ skill level. They can play with the top teams in the league and beat them. They can and have beaten the Capitals, Bruins, Blues, and more of the top teams in the league. The Islanders struggle against teams they have no business losing against, such as the New Jersey Devils, Los Angeles Kings, and Anaheim Ducks. Obviously, no win in the NHL is guaranteed, and the Islanders should have an easier time beating the basement teams rather than teams at the top of the mountain. Success in the second half is dependent on whether the Islanders play down to their opponent or not.