What are their chances?
The Islanders finished 5th last season, losing out to the reigning Stanley Cup holders the Tampa Bay Lightning. They have performed well during the Regular Season this year, but haven’t looked a level above the rest, unlike the Avalanche, Knights, Leafs, and the Lightning.
One thing to note from performances this year is that the Islanders don’t have a consistent goal scorer—it seems that with every game comes a new goalscorer. This lack of consistency will hurt them in the postseason, as they need to have reliable players who can put up the numbers game after game.
Nonetheless, the Islanders are scoring and currently sit 3rd in a stacked East Division. They boast a strong roster, with Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Mat Barzal, Jordan Eberle, and Brock Nelson all putting up numbers in 2021. But, the game isn’t just about offensive scoring. The Islanders need to improve in defence if they are to compete with the leagues’ best.
Barry Trotz runs a tight ship, with a very regimented defensive setup that can be difficult to adapt to, especially for new players coming into the team. This isn’t ideal for the team in general, especially when there are adjustments to be made so late in the regular season.
However, Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac have done a great job. The pair read the game well and are quick at shutting down potential problems, which will be pivotal during an intense playoff series against the very best in the league. With the Playoffs getting underway in May, there is little time left to make any major adjustments.
Go Into the postseason with momentum
At present, the Islanders sit on a 2-game losing streak, which is what we also see for the fourth-placed Bruins. There is still time to turn that into something quite different.
As we’ve seen many times before with Stanley Cup winners, not having a spectacular regular season doesn’t mean you aren’t in contention for the Stanley Cup. Take the 2019 St. Louis Blues side, they went into the Cup run having won a string of games in the final games of the regular season, and look what happened.
If the Islanders can get back to winning ways as we approach the final games of the season, this will have an enormous effect on their chances of getting off to winning ways in the postseason.
There’s real strength in this team
While some may disagree, this looks like one of the strongest islanders teams we’ve seen in years. They have every opportunity of getting their hands on the big prize this year. The absence of their captain Anders Lee is certainly going to be an issue, but with players like Mat Barzal and Travis Zajac in the team, there are certain players that can take on the role.
It’s not about someone who can guide the players, it’s more about someone who the other players can turn to for motivation. A player that is going to get out here and give 110% every game, which is why a young Barzal might be the man for the job.
Expect many of the favoured teams to perform in the postseason. But, whatever you do, don’t count out the Islanders. Expect to see them making a serious cup run this year.
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