New York Islanders Playoff Preview; First Round vs. Florida Panthers
With the 2016 NHL Playoffs now underway, let’s take a look at this year’s New York Islanders Playoff Preview.
The New York Islanders, 4th in the Metropolitan Division, ended the season with a record of 45-27-10. The Islanders have plenty of young forwards with potential, who have contributed to the league’s fourth-best offense, are on the upswing of their careers.
Key Players for the Islanders
John Tavares, center, led the team with 33 goals and scored 37 assists, totaling the team’s top points (70). Tavares is a skilled center who is capable of making those around him better, at even strength or on the power play. Brock Nelson, left wing, followed Tavares with 26 goals.
Kyle Okposo, right wing, led the team with 42 assists and scored 22 goals, earning a total 64 points. Frans Nielson, center, followed Okposo with 52 points.
Johnny Boychuck, defenseman, lead the team with a 17 plus-minus rating and Thomas Griess, goaltender, lead the team with 23 wins.
Jaroslav Halak, goaltender, suffered a lower body injury in a game against the Penguins in March and is expected to be out of action for six weeks. Appearing in his second season with the Islanders, Halak compiled an 18-13-4 record, a .919 save percentage, and actually has 30 games of playoff experience.
Travis Hamonic suffered a knee injury and is trying to work back as quickly as possible, so he can join the Islanders for the Playoffs. Hamonic scored 5 goals and 21 points in the 72 games he played. Should he recover and return for the playoffs, he would provide the Islanders a big boost to their defensive core.
It’s been publicly known that Hamonic wants to be traded, due to “personal family matters,” but has made it clear that he would finish the season with the Islanders. Considering he’s led the squad with an average 23:44 minutes per game, it would have been surprising to see him dealt in the middle of the playoff push.
The New York Islanders’ penalty kill is at 85.5 percent and is the highest in the league. However, for poor power play, the Islanders have a rate of 18.7 percent, which ranked 16th.
For the Islanders, there is not much grit left among the forward corp, the wings lack depth, and many prospects are a high risk. Talent is said to have thinned out at forward due to consistent graduation classes and some players remain in the system, but have not developed as originally predicted.
Even with a deep, diverse group of defensemen and depth at goaltending, it’s clear the Islanders also have some improvements to make.
The New York Islanders had control of their own destiny after an overtime loss against the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday. A loss against the Flyers gave them an advantage to be first on the wild card spot in the playoffs.
The Islanders will face the Panthers in the first round of the NHL Stanley Cup.
The NYI haven’t gotten out of the first round since 1993, the season before the Panthers were born. However, if they can make this year, it would be interesting to see how far they can really go.
(New York Islanders Playoff Preview)