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The Rollercoaster That Was This Islanders Season

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After all the highs and lows for the New York Islanders, it’s time to take a step back and review what truly was a rollercoaster of a season. When the final buzzer sounded on the Islander’s 6-3 defeat to the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 5 of their 2024 NHL Stanley Cup playoff first round series from PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina, the Islanders season had officially come to an end. They lost to Carolina in the first round last year as well, so the feeling is familiar. If you asked fans and people around hockey, this Islanders season could have been over long before the playoffs.

The New York Islanders 2023-24 Season in Review

At many points, it did seem that the Islanders were out of playoff contention. Going on six-game winning streaks only to follow them up with six-game losing streaks. Credit to Head Coach Patrick Roy who took over mid-season. Along with his staff, and also credit the players for battling the way they did down the stretch. The Islanders in their streaky fashion won eight of their last nine games. This was indeed the streak that propelled them into the playoffs. Finishing third in the NHL’s Metropolitan Division with 94 points and a 39-27-16 record. In fact, 16 overtime losses tied them with the Montreal Canadiens for the most in the league. 13 blown 3rd-period leads were the reason for this.


The First Round Playoff Series Review Against Carolina

What happened in the series against the Hurricanes was a microcosm of what the entire season was like for this team. No clutch goal-scoring and inability to hold leads. While the series score was not close, the actual games themselves were. If you remove an empty-net goal from the first two games, then the first four games were decided by one goal. However, the Islanders could not capitalize on being in every game as Carolina did a good job of shutting down the Islander’s top guys. Mathew Barzal had five points in the series leading the team. Noah Dobson, who had 70 points in the regular season, could only record one assist in the series. Brock Nelson had 34 goals during the season but just two in the series. Furthermore, Bo Horvat who had 33 goals and only had one. Kyle Palmieri who quietly had a 54-point, 30-goal season only had a goal and two assists. The series turned in Game 2 where the Islanders had a chance to tie the series at one going back home. They were up 3-0 at one point. However, the Hurricanes scored two goals in nine seconds during the 3rd period. Turning a 3-2 game deficit into a 4-3 win. They did it again in the elimination Game 5, scoring two 3rd period goals in eight seconds. Making a 3-3 game into a 5-3 game.

A Season in Two Parts

Breaking down the regular season could be broken up into two parts. The Lane Lambert era and the Patrick Roy era. Lane started the season behind the bench after replacing Barry Trotz. Lane’s record was 19-15-11 as the coach this season but they had a stretch in January where they lost six out of seven games. Topped off by a blown lead and a 4-3 overtime loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on January 19th. The Blackhawks who finished this season with a 23-53-6 record. The next day Lane was fired and replaced by former legendary goaltender and former Jack Adams Award (coach of the year) winner with the Colorado Avalanche Patrick Roy. The instant impact was felt by the players, videos surfaced of an animated Roy screaming behind the bench during games and on the ice during practice. He would demand perfection from the team. Making them run drills in practice over and over until done to his liking 

“I’ll use the phrase ‘culture shock,’ Matt Martin said, “It’s a change. In a lot of ways, things got turned upside down. He’s got a different style and different energy.

The Islanders finished the season 20-12-5 after Roy took over. There was the adjustment period that comes with bringing in a new coach but when they figured out who they were as a team, they played good hockey. With a full offseason with Patrick Roy and Lou Lamoriello’s all-in attitude, it will be interesting to see what happens with the team moving forward into next season and the future.

Main photo credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports


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