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The Puck Stops Here

Islanders Make Playoffs

I have written a couple posts about teams that are having results that break from recent history by qualifying or not qualifying for the playoffs.  The Toronto Maple Leafs are an example of a team that made the playoffs that is a change from their recent past and the Philadelphia Flyers missing the playoffs are an example of a team that has regularly made playoffs recently.  The biggest surprise playoff qualifier so far is likely the New York Islanders.  They last qualified for the playoffs in 2007.

I think the Islanders are an example of a team that has benefitted from the shortened season.  I do not see them as a team that could sustain this level of play in an 82 game season.  They don't have the talent but they have improved from their worst days and are good enough to get hot for a while and thus make playoffs in a shortened season.  The Isles qualified for playoffs with such a streak.  In their first eleven games in April they did not lose any games in regulation.  They had 8 wins and 3 regulation tie losses.  A run of 19 points out of a possible 22 is very strong and that is what cemented their playoff berth.  Unfortunately for the team they lost their final three games, so it looks like their hot streak has come to an end before the playoffs begin.

When we look at the Islanders talent it is hard to see a playoff calibre team.  John Tavares is definitely a very good player.  He will receive some Hart Trophy consideration this year but I doubt he will be a nominee.  It is hard to see the depth behind him.  Matt Moulson and Brad Boyes are the next two highest scorers on the team and it is far more logical to view their success as a result of playing on the Tavares line than because of their game-breaking talents.  Frans Nielsen is one of the stronger defensive forwards in hockey.  Beyond that group there are few players on the Isles forward line that should make a big impact.

On defence Mark Streit has been strong.  Lubomir Visnovsky settled in for a good season after he finally came over from the KHL.  They have been the difference-makers.  It's not a deep group here either.

Evgeni Nabokov has been solid in goal.  He is not going to be mistaken for a Vezina candidate anymore but he is more than competent.  Like the other positions on the team there is little depth here either.

The biggest reason for improvement on Long Island have been John Tavares making the leap to superstardom (imagine the press he would have had in a more heavily covered market) and the stabilizing influence of Visnovsky and Nabokov on defence and in gal respectively.  It isn't enough for me to see them as a solid playoff team but in a shortened year with a little luck they have found their way there.  I wonder how long it will be before they have another playoff appearance.

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I am sorry but your narrative about the NY Islanders is without facts.  Do you realize that the Islanders have three top five picks that will be on the team next season?  Do you also realize that they have Anders Lee and Brock Nelson plus over $30 million in cap space?  Do you also understand they only lost one game in regulation (by one goal) for the entire month of April?  So they are no longer hot heading into the playoffs? 

It’s OK to be biased about the NYI based on the mistakes of the past…..however that was the past and this team is heading in the right direction.  Going forward please conduct research prior to blogging.

Posted by joma85 on 04/28/13 at 11:21 AM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

Joma

I realize that when the first thing you point out on a playoff team is how many draft picks and players they have in the pipeline who are not in the NHL now you don’t have a good team that should have made playoffs this year.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 04/29/13 at 09:22 AM ET

Bossy_Rules's avatar

There is a much better argument for why the Islanders were not lucky to make the playoffs.  Possession.  Please take a look at behindthenet.ca and the possesion ratings of the teams.  After you click on the ‘Team Fenwick Data By Score” link you have to edit the URL address and change the year from 2011 to 2012 to get this year’s rankings.  Granted there was no inter-conference play so its hard to compare teams from different conferences but even just within the Eastern conference the Islanders were clearly a playoff caliber team   Remember, Fenwick stabilizes with many fewer games than W-L or any other measure of team strength.  After 48 games it is pretty clear that the Islanders are definitely one of the top 8 teams in the conference.  Their Fenwick close was 52.01, 6th best in the conference.  Your assertion that the Islanders benefitted from a hot streak at the end of a shortened season is not supported by the facts.

Posted by Bossy_Rules on 05/12/13 at 06:15 PM ET

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imageThe Puck Stops Here was founded during the 2004/05 lockout as a place to rant about hockey. The original site contains over 1000 posts, some of which were also published on FoxSports.com.

Who am I? A diehard hockey fan.

Why am I blogging? I want to.

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Email: y2kfhl@hotmail.com