Their marketing department could have fun rebranding this season with a new motto. May we suggest, “The Islanders, Go Figure."
Because it’s been hard to figure out exactly what type of team they are.
They keep collecting points, going 6-1-4 since Nov. 15. But imagine where they’d be in the standings if they hadn’t blown 10 third-period leads.
Their power play (gasp!) is really good, with at least one goal in the last five games. Their penalty kill was really bad. Now it’s good. They’re scoring goals — 24 in their last five games — and are in a playoff spot. They turn the puck over a heck of a lot. They’re far from a fast team.
The middle two games of this season-high, six-game homestand should help to do so.
The Islanders face the Kings on Saturday night at UBS Arena after Los Angeles set an NHL record with its 11th straight road win to open the season by beating the Canadiens 4-0 on Thursday. The Maple Leafs, with their potent core four of Auston Matthews, William Nylander, Mitch Marner and former Islanders captain John Tavares, visit on Monday.
Both the Kings and Maple Leafs were in playoff positions on Friday. Wins against both would be really impressive.
The Islanders (11-7-7) moved into third place in the Metropolitan Division with Thursday’s 7-3 win over the last-place Blue Jackets. The Islanders closed out the game with three, third-period goals after the visitors closed to 4-3. This after the Islanders blew a three-goal, third-period lead as they opened the homestand with a 5-4 overtime loss to the Sharks, who had the fewest points in the NHL at the time. Coach Lane Lambert called it “a sin.”
“We feel like we can score and we want to attack,” Lambert said after the Islanders set both a season-high for goals and margin of victory on Thursday. “We want to play on our toes. When you get your special teams going and your power play going, it helps with that.”
Still, the Islanders' goal differential is minus-6. Only they and the Hurricanes (minus-1) among teams holding a playoff spot on Friday were in the negative in that category.
The Islanders often fail the cursory eye test. The Blue Jackets hemmed them in their zone for long stretches in the second period. The Islanders were outshot 45-27 yet concluded a 2-1-0 road trip with a 4-3 win over the Panthers this past Saturday. The previous game, the Islanders were outshot 43-16 in a 5-4 overtime win over the Hurricanes.
Yet, look closer, and most of the shots came from the outside as the Islanders protected their crease adequately.
Both those teams were in playoff spots on Friday and the Islanders have a 4-2-4 mark against teams currently holding postseason positions.
“Realistically, we know where things kind of fell short in some of those blown leads,” Kyle Palmieri said after Thursday’s win. “I wouldn’t say after tonight everything is fixed and we’re good to go. But I think it’s a step in the right direction.”
The Islanders. Go figure.