by DONNIE VAPHIDES Section Editor
The New York Islanders have been the joke of the NHL for the last decade, but times are changing, as they sit at 21-10-0 and are third in the Eastern Conference.
This success did not happen overnight. Over the offseason, they have made free agent acquisitions and traded for key players.
Their bigger move came when they traded away defensemen T.J. Brennan and Ville Pokka, along with G Anders Nilsson to the Chicago Blackhawks for D Nick Leddy and goalie Kent Simpson. Leddy has been a solid addition, scoring five goals and 10 assists, as well as being a great defender.
The team got a quality trade when they acquired defensman Dan Boyle from the San Jose Sharks for a conditional 2015 fifth-round draft pick. Boyle has been a great player since he joined the league in 1998, bringing a new sense of leadership to the team.
Boyle is known for his defensive presence and has scored two goals this season so far. At 38 years old, he still has not slowed down and will possibly play until he is 40. His apperance in the locker room gives the team the boost they will need to endure the long season.
A big boost came from the addition of staring goalie Jaroslav Halak. He has been the main reason for the success of the Isles, having a record of 16-6 when he is in goal. His save percentage is a .917, with three shutouts this year, which is third amongst all goalies.
When Halak is not on ice for the team, backup goalie Chad Johnson has been a decent help, going 5-4 in nine starts. Halak has been more effective, but Johnson has proven he can hang in the net if he is needed at any moment.
Junior Sean Mckeon said, “It is early in the year, but the New York Islanders are showing they could be on top of the standings when it is all said and done. For a team that has struggled of recent years, it is nice to see them find success.”
Team All-Star John Tavares has taken his place amongst the best in hockey; his role for the team is huge for their success. Although he has had somewhat of a reduced impact from last year, his season totals so far are a solid 12 goals and 15 assists.
The Islanders have currently gone 4-3 in the month of December, which is a little behind November where they only lost three games the entire month.
The strong month of November saw them gain confidence and build up team chemistry. Once the team got used to playing with each other since adding pieces, they have shown why it was worth sending draft picks and players to get who they did.
“The Islanders, as of right now, are surging and will most likely find there way into the playoffs when they come along if they keep this up. They could be a championship contender when it is all said and done”, said junior Shane Ferrero.
With more than half of the regular season to go, nothing is set in stone and anything can happen. However, the Islanders keep on finding ways to win, and look like they will continue on this hot streak.
How far do you think the Islanders can go this season?