Going into the season, I think many people knew that going forward, the New York Islanders were going to be a much different NHL franchise.
Gone would be the days of having a bad general manager, the wrong coach, the wrong arena (that’s still kind of the case) or just give off a bad vibe in general. This is why many teams and fan bases could not take them seriously.
Well, it’s time for all hockey fans to change their thinking when it comes to the Isles. I actually think that are thinking regarding this organization is be one of admiration.
Don’t look now, but as of this writing, the team is first in the Metropolitan Division and second in the entire Eastern Conference. The team already has 30 wins and is well on their way to winning at least 40 games this season.
All of the success this team has had so far starts at the top. The team’s new general manager Lou Lamoriello has brought class, a winning culture, and legitimacy to a franchise that has lacked one for many years.
We have to remember that Lamoriello built the New Jersey Devils into a three-time Stanley Cup champion and franchise to be modeled after. He’s a Hockey Hall of Famer who knows how to build contenders, which is exactly the kind of person the Islanders have needed for a very long time.
One move that Lou made to make this team one to be reckoned with is hiring Barry Trotz to be the club’s head coach. Trotz was coming off winning his first Cup in his career with the Washingon Capitals so automatically, the team had a Cup-winning coach that would be manning the bench.
In Trotz, the team has a guy who knows what it takes to win. They have a guy that won a lot of game with both the Nashville Predators and Washington Capitals and they now have someone who is as loyal as they come.
When joining the club, the first thing that Trotz did was make this team play better defensively. As of this writing, the team is first in the league in goals allowed as they have given up 120 goals in 51 games, which is good for a 2.35 goals-against per game.
Remember folks, this team has been awful defensively for many seasons. Sure, they could put the puck in the net with some regularity, but they could never keep it out of their net.
This season, the team’s style of play has completely changed. It is clear that they are extremely focused on their play without the puck as they are currently 19th in the league in goals scored, which means they have sacrificed a bit of offense.
With that said, it may be better off for this hockey team right now. May be use this season to settle their defensive play and then next season, get their offense rolling and be able to put those two things together to form a complete hockey team.
Should the team continue to play this way, and there is no reason to think that they’ll fall off a cliff or anything, they will not only make the playoffs, but will be legitimate contenders. When was the last time that we could say that about an Islanders’ hockey club.
Thanks to Lamoriello and Trotz, this team is back on the NHL map and on their way to becoming not only a threat in the Eastern Conference, but in the entire league. This team is legit, folks.