The New York Islanders ended 2018 on a high note. They beat the Buffalo Sabres 3-1 on New Year’s Eve.
The New York Islanders began their 2019 schedule last night, hosting the Chicago Blackhawks at the Nassau Coliseum (or NYCB Live if you prefer). They were also showcased yesterday for a national audience on NBCSN.
Many wrote the Islanders off to begin the year. Much to the fans’ delight, Trotz and company have overachieved to this point this season. The enter 2019 at 22-13-4 after last night’s heroics from Devon Toews. Currently, they sit just a point out of a playoff spot.
New Year, New Foe
The Islanders first two games of 2019 are against perpetual Western Conference powerhouses. Now, the Isles travel to St. Louis Saturday to play the Blues. Fortunately, for the Islanders, both the Blackhawks and Blues are struggling this season.
The Blackhawks are sitting at 15-21-7 and the Blues are sitting in the NHL cellar at 15-18-4. The Isles have won five in a row, and eight of their last nine. They have a perfect opportunity to kick off 2019 on the right foot.
It’s reasonable to assume the Islanders best hockey is yet to come. The more comfortable they become in coach, Barry Trotz’s system, the better they will be. This year they have turned a complete 180 from last year and have allowed the fewest goals in the league (104).
The more they play, the more second nature the defensive system will be. The more comfortable they are on defense, the more it should help the offense improve as the year goes on.
Many thought the Islanders would fall back into laughingstock territory after the offseason. The New York Islanders have a chance to make a statement in early 2019 and show the best is yet to come.