After losing two straight games to the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks, the New York Islanders have been quietly playing quite well during these early games of the 2015-2016 regular season. Only six games have been played but the Isles are currently tied for first place in the Metropolitan Division with the rival New York Rangers with nine points.
Wins against Winnipeg, Nashville, San Jose, and Columbus have the blue and orange experiencing their first winning streak of the season (currently at 4) and the feelings surrounding the organization are full of optimism. It is still extremely early on in the season but the Islanders find themselves in a perfect position as the month of October reaches its end.
Plenty of Offense
Offensively speaking, the Islanders have picked up right where they left off last season. The blue and orange find themselves in the top-five in goals scored with 21 in six games. As expected, captain John Tavares leads his team in points, goals, and assists with nine, four, and five. Many believed that this could be Tavares’s year to be crowned league MVP, and he is proving to be a worthy candidate so far.
Number 91 continues to demonstrate that he is the leader of this Islanders team as he always comes through when New York needs him most. Kyle Okposo is continuing to show his value to the Isles with the second most points on the team. There is so much speculation on whether or not he will remain with the Islanders past this offseason or even be traded during the season. Luckily for the Islanders, Okposo does not seemed phased by all of this as he is on pace for another great year. Youngsters Anders Lee, Brock Nelson, and Ryan Strome are off to good starts offensively as well.
These three will need to continue to produce at a high level if the Islanders want to be serious Stanley Cup contenders this spring. When it comes down to it, a team cannot win hockey without the ability to put in the back of the net. Six games in, the Islanders have not struggled in this category and there is no reason to expect their offensive success to continue.
In the recent past, backup goaltending had been a serious issue for the Islanders. Reliability in net only went as far as Jaroslav Halak, which caused the team to overwork him and wear him down. With the Stanley Cup finals a realistic possibility this year, the Isles needed to find a backup goalie that could hold his own when Halak needs rest.
So far this season, Thomas Greiss has proven that the Isles made the right choice giving him the job. In his three starts so far, Greiss is sporting a 2-0-1 record with a 2.64 GAA and .925 SV%. Greiss has had to step up earlier than originally expected with Halak dealing with injuries and he has been very successful. Halak now appears to be healthy and has also look pretty solid.
He has won his two starts and currently has a goals-against-average of 1.50 and a save-percentage of .952. If these two can continue their early season brilliance, Jack Capuano will be able to breathe a little easier knowing goal tending is an area he does not need to worry about.
Finishing the Month Strong
The Islanders are currently 4-1-1 in the month of October with five more games to go. Although they have started the year off strong, it will mean nothing if the team starts to regress and lose games. The Isles remaining games this month are against Boston, St. Louis, Calgary, Carolina, and New Jersey. There are some real tough contests (Blues & Bruins) along with some games that should be gimmies (Devils & Hurricanes). Although winning all five of these contests is a realistic possibility, the Islanders would be satisfied coming out on top in at least three.
There is still a lot of hockey to be played this season. With 76 games remaining on New York’s schedule, nobody can determine where the Islanders will end up in the standings. However, October has been a good month so far which has the future looking bright in Brooklyn.
John Gove is an elementary school educator who writes about hockey in his spare team. Over the past five years, John has covered the game at various levels. Now, he exclusively focuses his coverage on prospects and the developmental leagues.