The New York Islanders are off to a hot start and very much alive in the playoff race. Although they are projected to just miss on the playoffs.
In their first year, Barry Trotz and Lou Lamoriello have overachieved with the New York Islanders. Heading out of the Christmas break, they have the Islanders just three points out of a playoff spot with two games in hand.
At the beginning of the year, if you told me the Isles would be in the midst of a playoff race as the calendar flipped to 2019, I wouldn’t have believed you. When the Isles lost John Tavares and compensated by signing bottom six forwards it looked like it would be a long year ahead.
That’s been anything but the case so far this year. They’ve been fun, exciting, and they’re more of a fundamentally sound hockey club on a nightly basis. It’s obvious the impact that Trotz and Lamoriello have on the club.
Today, The Athletic dropped their projected playoff picture based on simulations of the rest of the season. According to their model, the Isles will finish with 88 points putting them on the outside looking in.
They have the Sabres and the Canadiens getting in with 93 and 91 points as the Wild Card’s so it would potentially be a very tight race down the end, but ultimately not enough for the Islanders to get in.
As we mentioned on the podcast this week, we think the Islanders have a good shot to make the playoffs but we’d both be okay if they played meaningful games down the stretch of the season and narrowly missed on the playoffs in year one.
One thing this model doesn’t take into consideration is where the Isles will be playing in March. 10 of their final 19 games of the season will be played at Nassau Coliseum. Of those 10 games, six of them are against teams currently in a playoff spot but keep in mind how much of a home-ice advantage it is for the Isles.
If they finish something like 12-5-2 down the stretch, that’d probably be enough to get them in, and they’d be playing their best hockey at the end of the year come playoff time, which could be dangerous.
Whether they narrowly miss the playoffs, make it and get bounced right away, or somehow win a round their season would have to be considered a success. Nobody expected this out of the Islanders this year and it’s a great jump start to the Lamoriello/Trotz era.