The New York Islanders head north of the border to play John Tavares and the Toronto Maple Leafs. And while things are going well for him, they’re also going well for the Islanders.
We’re going to hear all about John Tavares‘ exploits with the Toronto Maple Leafs since he left the New York Islanders. We’re going to hear about all the goals he’s scored by now, all the assists he’s made, and how he’s helped propel the Maple Leafs to the top of the league.
But, as we all know, that’s only one side of the story. John Tavares’ work since leaving the New York Islanders is well document (maybe too well) by the pro-Toronto media.
A story that isn’t covered as well is how the New York Islanders are doing without Tavares.
We Knew He’d Be Great
Let me save you the trouble of reading anything on Sportsnet or TSN about Tavares tomorrow. Since joining the Toronto Maple Leafs John Tavares has scored 26 goals and added 18 assists for 44 points in 38 games.
He’s on pace for 95 points this season. He’s been great. But then again, we already knew Tavares was great. Surround him with good players and watch him become an even greater player. We knew this would happen when he joined the Maple Leafs.
But for the New York Islanders their destiny wasn’t as predetermined as Tavares. When he left the expectation for the Islanders was that they’d fall all the way to the basement of the NHL never to return.
But with 36 games played so far, the Islanders are just where they were last season with Tavares in terms of points. In fact, they’re even better when you take a closer look.
Fine Without Him
Through 36 games in the 2017-18 season the New York Islanders had 42 points. Through the same number of games this season, the New York Islanders also have 42 points.
Although in a slight twist the Islanders are winning games as the season approaches the halfway mark, unlike in 2017-18 when they started dropping games.
With the win against the Ottawa Senators yesterday the Isles are 7-4-1 over their last 12 games. Last season they were 4-6-2 at the same point in time.
That difference is largely due to the man behind the bench in Barry Trotz. What he’s been able to do in stabilizing this team is just shy of miraculous.
So far the Islanders have allowed only 101 goals against, that’s tied for the second best defensive record in the league with the Boston Bruins. That 101 GA is a pace of 230 over a full 82 game season. That’s 66 fewer goals against compared to 2017-18.
With the way the Islanders are playing at the moment you can see them push into a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. A wild card position seems the likelier, but with the way the Metropolitan Division is lining up a seeded spot is within the realm of possibility.
As Lou Lamoriello gets time to add more quality to this roster, either through the numerous talent prospects he has, via trade or free agency, the Islanders will undoubtedly become greater with Barry behind the bench.
The New York Islanders are currently at the same place they were with Tavares in the lineup. It’s clear that with a bit more quality in the lineup and with Barry Trotz behind the bench, this team can and will be even better.
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It’s not to say that the New York Islanders are better off without John Tavares, they could certainly benefit from his production. But they’re clearly just fine without him. That’s something you won’t hear much over on Toronto-centric media.