With the 2019-20 NHL season on hold we are going to take a look at where each NHL team stands at this moment with a series of posts examining their season. Have they met expectations? Exceeded expectations? Who has been the surprise? All of that and more. Today we look at the 2019-20 New York Islanders.
2019-20 New York Islanders
Record: 35-23-10 (80 points in 68 games), positioned sixth in the Metro and ninth in the East. Islanders would rank ahead of Blue Jackets by points percentage (and thus be in the postseason by that metric).
Leading Scorer: Mathew Barzal – 60 points (19 goals and 41 assists)
In-Season Roster Moves
- Acquired Andy Greene in a trade with the Devils for David Quenneville and a 2021 second-round pick.
- Landed Jean-Gabriel Pageau from the Senators for a 2020 second-round pick, a conditional 2020 first-rounder, and a conditional third-round pick in 2022. The Islanders went on to sign Pageau to an interesting contract extension.
The Islanders may very well have been the coldest (relevant) team in the NHL before the pause.
Most obviously, the Islanders found themselves mired in a seven-game losing streak, the worst “active” slump in the league. While the Isles managed to squeeze four points from that skid (0-3-4), that’s still troubling.
When you zoom out, their struggles stretch back further. The Islanders managed only two wins since Feb. 13 (2-7-4), and just six victories since Jan. 11 (6-11-7). Such struggles opened the door for the Rangers and other usurpers to push the Islanders out of the playoffs entirely.
It was quite the fall for an Islanders team that was flirting with at least a round of home-ice advantage during hotter stretches of 2019-20.
But one also cannot deny that the Islanders deserve credit for that hotter stretch. Barry Trotz’s system combines with strong goaltending from Thomas Greiss and Semyon Varlamov to form a team that’s tough to score against.
While the Islanders were slipping quite a bit, and facing a road-heavy stretch that would have seen them play eight of their would-be next 11 games on the road, they also were in position to return to the postseason. Technically, the Blue Jackets (81 points in 70 games) rank ahead of the Islanders, but only by a point, while the Isles hold two games in hand.
Will the Islanders get to prove they can right the ship? Can they justify spending around the trade deadline on J.G. Pageau and Andy Greene?
We may never find out those answers, yet Trotz cemented once again that his defensive schemes can keep his teams competitive. After all, few teams would be too troubled if you told them they’d have a 35-23-10 record through 68 games.
Highlight of the Season for 2019-20 Islanders
Islanders fans savor opportunities to roast people who’ve predicted that their team would flop. With that in mind, the earlier parts of 2019-20 served up a decadent buffet.
After a brief stumble out of the gate, the Islanders rattled off a 10-game winning streak from Oct. 12 – Nov. 5.
The Islanders avenged the Penguins ending their 10-game winning streak by beating Pittsburgh twice to extend their point streak to a franchise-record 16 games. The Islanders rumbled to an impressive 16-3-1 record, ascending to the top spot in PHT’s Power Rankings for late November.
If you want an individual highlight, credit Pageau with scoring a goal and getting in a fight to celebrate his Islanders debut. Watch the scrap below:
MORE ON THE ISLANDERS:
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.