Kirill Kabanov takes a shot on goal as goalie Rick...

Kirill Kabanov takes a shot on goal as goalie Rick DiPietro tries to make the save during Islanders Media Day. (Sept. 21, 2011) Credit: Newsday/Audrey C. Tiernan

1. Health

They were already decimated by this time last season, so making it through camp with just a few minor injuries is a plus. If there are injuries, especially on defense, there isn't much depth behind the seven currently on the roster.

2. A true No. 1 goaltender

Can Rick DiPietro be that guy? Unlike Evgeni Nabokov and Al Montoya, both signed to one-year deals, DiPietro is here to stay. If he can regain even 80 percent of his pre-2007 form, he could be a real No. 1 again.

3. Tavares the All-Star

He's now 20 and entering his third NHL season. It's time for John Tavares to grab the mantle of top Islander and run with it. Anything less than a 35-goal, 80-point season may not be enough.

4. Special special teams

The Isles were 17th on the power play a season ago, but with Mark Streit back to QB, they could be a formidable group. And Frans Nielsen and Michael Grabner must return as the toughest penalty-killing duo in the league.

5. A fast start

They've seen what the opposite can do, with last season's 5-18-5 opening a killer. With seven of the first 10 at home, the Isles have a chance to bank some points early.

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