Entering the 2021-22 NHL Season the New York Islanders were pegged as a favourite to win the Stanley Cup. And why not considering this team went to back-to-back Eastern Conference Finals. After a slow start to the season, there was talk the Islanders could not handle the pressure of being a top team. In addition, the Islanders had to start the season on a 13-game road trip because their new arena was not ready. However, as the team heads back East for a couple of days before their next road, the 2021-22 New York Islanders have calmy righted the ship and did not overreact to the outside noise.
2021-22 New York Islanders Back On Track
The New York Islanders began their season on the wrong foot, which gave their fans a sense of panic. However, if you know the Islanders they have a solid dressing room with good leadership. The players knew the mistakes they were making on the ice had to be cleaned up. Head coach Barry Trotz told the media so after their first two games. Not to mention the Islanders were playing two good teams they struggle with. Their opening game of the season was against a Metro Division favourite in the Carolina Hurricanes. The next game was against the Florida Panthers. So right out the gate, the Islanders had a difficult task. Though at times, the Islanders had played well during those games, Trotz was not happy with the effort.
That all changed when Matt Martin returned to the lineup against the Chicago Blackhawks. Having Martin back in the lineup gave the Islanders their identity back. With the fourth line of Martin, Casey Cizikas, and Cal Clutterbuck back together, this allowed other players to play their natural positions in the lineup. That “Identity Line” is such a huge asset to have in the lineup as they set the tone for the Islanders in their games. Against the Blackhawks, the Islanders played their best game of the season getting contributions from everyone in the lineup. That was just what the doctor ordered for the Islanders. Get a win against a bad team and get points in the standings which led to a step in the right direction.
Getting Production From The Second Line
After a tough loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets in overtime, where the Islanders had the game in control, they knew they let one slip away in the division. After the game, Trotz noted to the media that he wanted more from his second line of Anthony Beauvillier, Josh Bailey, Brock Nelson, and even Kyle Palmieri. He knew those players needed to be better. And that “Killer Bs Line” which was so productive for them in the playoffs was non-existent in the first couple of games of the season. However, that all changed over the weekend.
In back-to-back games against the Arizona Coyotes and Vegas Golden Knights, that line combined for seven points as the Islanders won both games. The key to the success for the Islanders will be this line and their production. Everyone knows that Mathew Barzal and Anders Lee can generate offence on the first line. But the Islanders need depth scoring to be successful. And that has been an issue for the Islanders in years past. However, the Islanders know the talent they had in the room and were not going to let little bumps in the road make them make drastic changes or hit the panic button. Instead, they relied on the system that Trotz put into place to guide them through their sluggish start to the season.
Continuing The Road Trip
The Islanders returned back East for a couple of days off before continuing their road trip before opening UBS Arena on November 20th. Sitting with a record of 3-2-1 through six games, the Islanders are one game above NHL .500. And that is a good position considering they have not played a home get yet. With so many ebbs and flows to a season, a team like the Islanders cannot get too high or low. Thye have to remain even-keeled and that is exactly what they are doing. Sure do they wish, their record was 4-2 or better sure, but the main thing is the Islanders are improving with each game. That only bolds well for the future once they return home to Long Island for their home opener.
One thing is for sure the 2021-22 New York Islanders have not pushed any panic buttons when in moments other teams would have. Having strong leadership and coaching keeps everyone focused on the ultimate goal. One thing we know about these Islanders’ teams under Trotz is they get off to slow starts. However, that usually means the team finds a way to dig out of the hole and be there in the end. As we have seen through six games, the Islanders are figuring it out just fine. So just relax and enjoy the ride and do not overreact.
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