How Should Islanders Fans Feel So Far This Season?

New York Islanders, Brock Nelson #29. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
New York Islanders, Brock Nelson #29. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The NHL’s Christmas break is coming up, and the New York Islanders hope to be in the Eastern Conference playoff picture as they celebrate the holiday.

Currently, the Isles do in fact own a playoff spot, as they are in eighth place in the East entering Monday’s contest against the Colorado Avalanche.

Last season, New York missed the playoffs, though in each of the two seasons prior to that, they were one of the final four teams remaining in the postseason.

So, with an 18-13-1 record and in the second wild card spot, how should Islanders fans feel about what they’ve witnessed to this point in the season?

Are the Islanders capable of being a playoff team?

To start, let’s take a look at their defense. That has been the strength of the team for the last several seasons, and even though Barry Trotz is no longer the head coach, this team still appears to be more than capable of being elite defensively.

Both goaltenders have save percentages of .919 or better, and as a team, New York surrenders only 2.8 goals per game. That is a top-ten mark in the NHL, and it matches what they were able to do last year.

I would not say that a good defense is enough to make Islanders fans happy, but the uptick in offense may force me to rethink my feelings about this team’s “limited” ability to score.

Only one player is at a point per game so far this year. Brock Nelson has 33 points (15 goals and 18 assists) in 32 games to lead the Islanders. The difference, though, is that he has support.

Mathew Barzal is nearly at a point per game with 31 points in 32 contests, and Anders Lee and Noah Dobson each have over 20 points. With 11 players having produced double-digit point totals already, the Islanders as a team are scoring 3.3 goals per game.

Not only does that rank in the top half of the league, but it’s an enormous improvement over last season’s 2.8 goals per game average.

More. One contract on the Red Wings that is an absolute steal. light

I’m still hesitant to say that the Isles will be a playoff team, but fans have to be encouraged by the improved offense. If it continues, this will once again be a group that no other team wants to play in the postseason.