With the Islanders beating the Bruins 4-1 last night, they improved their record to 8-6-7. Believe me, no one saw this coming. But with their winning ways, 7-2-2 in their last 11, the Islanders are no longer the cellar dwellers of the NHL. So which category do we put them in? Are the Islanders playoff bound? For now, the answer is......not yet. There are still some factors that must be considered before crowning them a playoff team.
In the off-season Garth Snow has been sensational at finding the right free agents at the right time. Matt Moulson, Dwayne Roloson, and Martin Biron all have helped build up this club to where they are now and Moulson specifically has a really big upside on offense while Roloson has only one regulation loss in net. As for Biron, I will leave that one alone until my next blog but he will be important down the road. But can these three continue this trend for the rest of the season?
We're starting to see a young Islanders team mature in front of our very eyes. Bergenheim, Okposo, Hillen, and Neilsen to name a few, are blossoming into good point producers on a consistent basis. What I like about this team is that they're full of young talent mixed in with the right amount of veteran experience. Some young players can still be benched while learning how to play Gordons system and when their time has come to play, they don't miss a beat. But can this young team continue to score at a higher level for the rest of the year?
Heck this teams defense is healthy (I never counted Martinek, he was just a given to be injured), and probably will play more games together than ever before. That alone will help get the Islanders close to the top 8. But is there enough talent on the defense to make such a strong push? What happens if this defense gets injured? It's too soon to tell yet with this team.
What about some other teams below the Islanders who have had more injured players? If the players come back, Boston for example, you would think someone like a Marc Savard would improve the Bruins chances at a playoff spot. Even Montreal can keep it close when Markov makes it back. Let's not forget that the Lightning, and Thrashers are also on a resurgence this year, and are making a great push as well.
For now fans, it's too early to see where the Islanders will finish, too many question marks. But know this: the Islanders do have enough offense to make the playoffs, and compete. If the Islanders can get themselves another top 6 defenseman to replace Martinek and his minutes and improve the overall team defense, there is no reason to believe the Islanders won't be in it come March. They may need help getting in but the Islanders, as of 21 games into this season, have gone from cellar dwellers to a bubble team and are really fun to watch.