Well the New York Islanders season is about ten days old and so far so good. The fans should be excited. However, per my previous article it’s been a bit of a transition for the Islanders fans with the team’s new home being the Barclays Center. But there are a lot of good signs going on with New York in the early part of the regular season.
Greiss Strong #2
The signing of Thomas Greiss when free agency opened this past July was a very under the radar move. But make no mistake this was a big signing for New York, as they inked Greiss to a two year deal at $1.5 million per season. The backup goalie situation was an achilles heal for the Isles last season. One can make a strong argument if the Islanders had a real good backup between the pipes last year they might have won the division. Greiss has been a real good back up for the Penguins and the Coyotes the last two seasons, albeit in a small sample.
He has already shown his weight in gold as Jaroslav Halak started the season injured. Greiss stepped in and shown the Islanders that they should feel very confident when they need to give Halak a night off. So far Greiss is 2-0-1 with a 2.64 goals against average and a .925 save percentage.
Greiss’ opponents has not been cupcakes either as he has faced the defending Stanley Cup champs, the Blackhawks as well as Winnipeg and Nashville. Greiss could be the difference maker for the Isles in terms of winning the Metro this season.
— IslesBlog (@IslesBlog) October 16, 2015
Four Lines Starting to Hum
One of the strengths of the Islanders is their depth. That is best illustrated with their forward lines. The Islanders put together a new first line to start the season. Of course number 91 John Tavares would be centering it but he is now playing with talented youngsters Anders Lee and Ryan Strome. The early returns are extremely strong.
Tavares has eight points in five games, while Lee and Strome have four points each. The Isles second and third lines are starting to jell as well. Frans Nielson, Kyle Okposo and Josh Bailey have played together at a high level in past seasons. That line is starting to break out as they had a big night against the stingy San Jose Sharks this past Saturday. Then we get to the Brock Nelson, Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolay Kulemin line.
Nelson, a former 1st round pick, is a youngster with two seasons under belt and has improved each year. Grabovski and Kulemin are solid veterans who have a lot of experience playing with each other and that was before they joined the Islanders last season. These three players could score a combined 60 goals this season. Then finally we get the Islanders fourth line in Matt Martin, Cal Clutterbuck and Casey Cizikas which by almost all accounts in the NHL is the best 4th line in hockey. That is a very tough deep group for teams to deal with on a nightly basis.
— NHL (@NHLLinks) October 18, 2015
Strong Out of the Gate
The difference today between most NHL teams in terms of talent is very minute. Taking that fact into account and the amount of games in the league that go to overtime, which results in a three point contest, a strong start to the season is extremely important to every NHL team. In that regard the Islanders have to be very happy with their early start. A week and half into the 2015-16 season the Isles find themselves 3-1-1.
That record is even better when you consider New York’s first five games have been a home and home with the Blackhawks and three home games against Winnipeg, Nashville and San Jose. Heading into Sunday October 18th, the Jets, Predators and Sharks all had a couple of things in common. The first being this trio of teams also have come out of the gates very strong with a 4-1-0 record. All three teams one loss was against who? The answer is the Islanders.
The schedule this week doesn’t let up that much. Tuesday night the Isles go to Columbus and face the 0-6, Bluejackets. Despite their horrible start New York better expect an extremely desperate team in Columbus. Then the Isles have a couple of days off until Friday where they play back to back games. First up is a home contest against the Bruins, then Saturday is off to St. Louis to face the Blues.
The Islanders will have to continue to be on their game if they want this strong start to continue. Last season New York finished with 101 points and it all began with a really good start. The Islanders look to follow that blueprint this season.
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I am a Long Island – New York City guy. I have been writing about Hockey and Baseball for almost 10 years now on the web. I am also part of the Vegas Hockey Podcast, which is now part of “The Hockey Writers” podcast network. I have been an Islanders fans since the early 80’s. My goal is to bring insightful articles to everyone out there on the Islanders.