What a week it was for the New York Islanders.
The New York Islanders went 5-0-0 as they knocked off the Pittsburgh Penguins, the New Jersey Devils, and swept a three-game set against the Buffalo Sabres to move into the East Division’s top spot.
Let’s discuss some of your comments and questions in this week’s edition of the Isles Mailbag.
New York Islanders Mailbag: What to Make of the New York Islanders’ Latest Wins Over the Buffalo Sabres
Did what needed to be done but can’t make any judgment playing that team. (@massjmcd67)
We have had some great conversations this season on the New York Islanders, but here is where I have to disagree with you. I understand that beating one of the worst teams in the entire NHL three times in a row is not something to get hung up on, but these wins were more about the Islanders than it was the Sabres.
Good teams beat bad teams. Elite teams dominate bad teams. The Islanders showcased where they rank.
It was not like the Islanders barely won these three games. Each game saw the scoreboard read 5-2 at their conclusions, and the Islanders were in control the majority of the time. There were moments where the Sabres seemed to find their game, but once the Islanders found the back of the net, they scored and kept scoring as they made the most of their opportunities.
This is a season where every dominant team has taken advantage of the weakest team in their division. The Central-leading Tampa Bay Lightning have swept the worst team in their division, the Detroit Red Wings. The West-leading Vegas Golden Knights have swept the San Jose Sharks and the North-leading Toronto Maple Leafs are 3-1 against the Ottawa Senators.
And the Islanders are 3-0 against the Sabres. If they were to have lost a game or two this series, then you can judge what type of team the Islanders are. But for now, look at it as they did what every elite team has done so far this season.
Are they peaking too soon? (@thefredcharak)
So Fred, I loved this question. Last year, the Islanders peaked early in the season as they went on a 10-game win streak and a 14-game point streak. But after that stretch, the Islanders were lackluster and seemed outmatched each night against every opponent. Now the Isles are cruising right along here as they are 7-0-1 in their last eight games and are 10-0-2 at home this season.
When thinking about last year, how well do the Islanders do in the regular-season if Adam Pelech does not hit the shelf or if the Islanders’ fourth-line stayed healthy? Could they have continued to be a dominant force? Unfortunately, we will never know, but as of now, there have been no injuries and no real signs that this Islander team cannot keep this up.
To piggyback off the first question in the mailbag, the Sabres are not a good team, but the Islanders still had to play well enough to get the job done. The Islanders have finally solidified their lineup, particularly the third-line, and have kept their lineup constant. This has allowed players to gain confidence as well as chemistry.
Each player knows their roles which has led to these impressive efforts night in and night out.
What’s your biggest takeaway from the Isles 8-game point streak? (@KC1798_)
Hey Ken, thanks for the question. Right away, the takeaway that comes to mind is determination. On this point streak (7-0-1), the Islanders have held their opponents to two or fewer goals in all but one contest. Their determination in the defensive zone to break up plays and block shots has been ultra-impressive.
Playing this “boring style” of hockey takes a toll, as I think we saw that a bit late in the game against the Sabres yesterday afternoon. But in a 56-game season, the teams that grind out wins and finds ways to get the job done will be rewarded come season’s end.
Let’s forget about the sound defense for a second. On this eight-game point streak, the Islanders have averaged 4.00 goals per game. They are determined to be the first to loose pucks. Even when chances go by the board, the Islanders have continued to pressure their opponents in the offensive zone, wearing them down with impeccable forechecking. They have made the most of their opponent’s mistakes in the process.
Should the Islanders make ANY moves, major or minor, at the Trade Deadline? (@JoshuaGrenning)
So Josh, the New York Islanders would have a tough time making any moves, major or minor, without relieving some cap from their undesirable contracts. The biggest issue coming into the season was that the Islanders did not have enough star power offensively. However, the Islanders now have five players with nine or more goals on the season, and that sniper that they needed seems to be here in the form of Oliver Wahlstrom. While he did not factor into the win yesterday, he has shown that his shot is lethal and that he possesses the tools to be a goal-scoring threat at the NHL level.
Now we hear names like Jack Eichel, Johnny Gaudreau, and Filip Forsberg circling the trade rumour world but, again, cap is the issue. If the Islanders were to get one of these guys, it would be Forsberg, as I think he would fit perfectly into this Islander system. They are not in dire need of offense right now, but any of these guys would be welcomed with open arms.
The one area that I think the New York Islanders should look to improve upon is their defensive depth. The Islanders have a ton of players on offense that can slot in if need be, but if one of the defensemen (knock on wood) were to go down, the Islanders would be putting in an unknown. Now General Manager Lou Lamoriello never tips his hand. Could he already have a defenseman he is interested in? Of course, but I do believe that he is satisfied with his club right now, and if any trades were to be made, it would be of the minor variety.