The New York Islanders are on fire right now, with a 7-3-0 record ahead of a Sunday contest against the Philadelphia Flyers. They’ve built this record up thanks to a six-game winning streak that began on October 12th with a 3-2 victory over the Florida Panthers.
Since then, the goaltending tandem of Semyon Varlamov and Thomas Greiss are doing exactly what they were billed to do. They’ve allowed just 11 goals in their last six games and all the while they’ve been swapping starts. That’s put them in position for a 2.33 goals against average at home this season.
Granted, the six-game streak came after a lacklustre 1-3 start and that’s something the Islanders probably don’t want to talk about a lot.
Injuries have also been an issue, with New York sticking Tom Kuhnhackl, Matt Martin, Jordan Eberle and Leo Komarov on the shelf. Andrew Ladd was put on the IR in mid-September and just recently returned to contact practice, but he’s at least a month away. Luckily, Martin and Kuhnhackl are listed as day-to-day.
And the Josh Ho-Sang situation hasn’t helped, either. After not making the team out of camp, the forward requested a trade. The Islanders have been looking for the right fit, but not having him as an option with the forward group down a few skaters isn’t particularly helpful.
Nevertheless, this group is finding ways to win.
Brock Nelson leads the way in scoring with nine points in 10 games, including four goals. He’s one of three Islanders with four goals, with Mathew Barzal and Josh Bailey also turning in quality numbers. Both have eight points in 10 games, while Devon Toews has been impressive with seven points in 10 games.
The Islanders’ winning ways generally come down to what worked last season, which means they’re following Barry Trotz’s system to the letter. That means rotating the goaltending, playing dependable defence and mitigating risks.
During this six-game streak, the Islanders have not allowed more than two goals in any one game. The power play’s been clicking at 31.25 percent, good for second overall behind the surging Edmonton Oilers, but they’ve only had a league-low 16 chances with the extra skater.
The penalty kill could use a boost. Fortunately, the Islanders haven’t been short-handed that often and have maintained a disciplined style of play.
New York is well-positioned to take care of the Flyers Sunday and enjoy what amounts to a four-day break afterward. That should give them the chance to heal up and prepare for the next set, which starts with Tampa on Friday and runs into a back-to-back against the Buffalo Sabres.
Photo credit: NHL.com