Expectations for the New York Islanders have not been this high in quite sometime. After finishing in third place in the Metropolitan Division and making the postseason for the second time in three years, all signs point to another impressive season for the blue and orange. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a guarantee in sports and nobody can say with certainty that the Isles will be one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference come spring of 2016. However, one thing is certain. If the Islanders want find themselves back in the playoffs, it would be beneficial to start the year off hot.
This is going to be much easier said than done as the Islanders will go through a rather challenging month of October. Of the 11 games in the first month of the season, six of the teams New York faces made the postseason last year. In addition, seven of those 11 games are against teams that posted winning record last season. Luckily the Isles will play seven of their October games home at the Barclays Center. Home ice not mean the same thing it did when they were playing at the Nassau Coliseum but one would imagine the Islanders will still experience some sort of advantage playing in front of their die-hard fan base.
Challenges Begin When Season Does
The Islanders’ abilities will be put to the test right at the start of their season on October 9th when the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks come into Brooklyn. When the game is over, both teams will hop on a plain to the windy city of Chicago and play again the next night. I am no expert but I would imagine that a home-and-home against the defending champs is not the way any team wants to start off their season. The Blackhawks experienced some major changes to their roster this summer and one can make the argument that this year’s team will not be as good as last year’s. Regardless, Chicago should still be considered a tough team to beat until proven otherwise. New York would ideally like to be victorious in both games against the Hawks but should be pleased with one win.
The Isles then travel back to New York where they will take on two playoff worthy teams in the Nashville Predators and Winnipeg Jets. These squads have a lot of talent and New York would be foolish to take either of them lightly. I am predicting that the Islanders will pull out wins in both contests due to the fact that they are the better team. The next big challenge comes on the night of October 20th when the Isles head to Columbus to take on the Blue Jackets. Injuries pummeled the Jackets last season when they were originally projected to be one of the better teams in the east. With the addition of Brandon Saad, these division rivals should be one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference. The Islanders should look at this game as an opportunity to prove supremacy in an extremely talented division. On October 26, the Isles will take on the most surprising team of least season, the Calgary Flames. I for one think the Flames are the real deal and this game should be full of excitement from start to finish.
When its comes to contests the Islanders should have no trouble winning in the month of October, there are very few. The team’s first month schedule is full of opponents that should give them a real run for their money. Fortunately the Islanders will get a little bit of a break to finish off the month of October with games against the Devils and the Hurricanes. These two squads are not very good at all and New York should not be pleased with anything less than regulation wins in both games.
As mentioned before, the New York Islanders are going to want to prove that they are true contenders for the cup early on in the season. This means having a successful month of October. With the teams on the schedule it will not be easy; but I expect the Isles to come away with more victories than defeats heading into the month of November.
Look for the Islanders to collect one win in their home-and-home against Chicago; then defeat the Jets, Predators, Sharks, Bruins, Blues, Hurricanes and Devils, giving them at least 16 points for the month. With an 8-2-1 record, the New York Islanders will be sitting atop the Metropolitan Division when the month of October comes to an end. The orange and blue will be the talk of the hockey world entering the winter months and expectations will remain high. But how will the rest of the season turn out for the Islanders?
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.