The New York Islanders did not have the season they expected in 2021-22. The team was kept intact for the most part to finish where the prior two seasons had left off.
Additionally, the franchise was opening a new home in Belmont Park to bring an end to the circle of home ice that started when the Islanders left for Brooklyn and the Barclays Center.
Despite all the momentum, the Islanders had both on and off the ice, the season got off to a tough start, and it had too many obstacles to right the season.
Despite being a huge positive, the opening of the new arena caused the Islanders to start the season on a historic 13-game road trip.
It took the team quite some time to get into the full swing of the season before the next obstacles began to affect the team and the season.
The world has been dealing with the crisis of the Covid pandemic, and normal life has not been the same. Major sports began to bring some normalcy to the world, including hockey. Hockey began its playoffs in a “bubble” two years ago to ensure the safety of the players.
As things start to open, Covid was still a factor in the world.
The NHL and the Islanders were no different as they were exposed to the virus, and it began to spread through the locker room like wildfire. Despite the players all having the vaccine, most of the roster was infected with the virus throughout the season.
At one point, the Islanders had to call up and play career minor leaguers and rookies to fill important spots on the team.
Despite postponing games for other teams affected by the virus, the Islanders were forced to play a string of games with half their starting roster.
Not the ideal position for a contender to be in at the start of the season.
Like every team in every season, the Islanders also suffered injuries to key players on the team. It is never an excuse but cannot be ignored in the result.
New York Islanders Have a Fresh Start in Upcoming Season
After the Islanders lost two straight appearances in the Eastern Conference Finals, regular season play seemed less exciting. Many efforts were made by Lou Lamoriello to keep the core of this team together for another run at the Cup.
As things began to deteriorate last season, the time just began to run out. What was expected to be a guaranteed playoff appearance, fell long short of that expectation.
It felt as if this team just needed a fresh start to overcome the obstacles and right the ship.
A seemingly disappointing off-season where the Islanders missed out on opportunities to sign free agents Johnny Gaudreau and Nazim Kadri, the team remains similar and ready to take advantage of a fresh start.
The lone addition of Alexei Romanov on defense will certainly make an impact physically, but beyond that will remain to be seen.
Lou Lamoriello and the new coaching staff believe this team does not need a change. The obstacles faced last season were extreme enough that it was in a sense a “fluke” season.
The team has an elite goaltending duo in rising star, Ilya Sorokin and veteran netminder, Seymon Varlamov.
The defensive unit felt the absence of Nick Leddy and Lamoriello strengthened the top four with the acquisition of Romanov. The health of the top pair will be a difference-maker over the course of the year.
The forwards are getting older, but the youth sprinkled in the lineup should provide a boost.
Captain, Anders Lee, is another season removed from injury and should be on track to contribute on the wing.
Players like Zach Parise and Kyle Palmieri got off to horrid starts last season and regained form by the spring. A more consistent contribution is expected to help the secondary scoring as expected last season.
The wild card players like Oliver Wahlstrom and Kieffer Bellows could determine whether this group can make another run to the Eastern Conference Finals.