In Order For New York Islanders To Contend, Fast Start Needs To Continue

By Matthew Solomon
Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Islanders have gotten off to a pretty good start to their season. They went to shootouts in the first two games against the New Jersey Devils and Columbus Blue Jackets. Right there is three of a possible four points in the Islanders’ pockets to start the year. This has them tied for second in the Metropolitan Division.

I know it’s early to be getting excited about it, but in the past few seasons, the Islanders have shown to be slow starters, thus hurting their playoff chances before really getting out of the blocks.

Some of the numbers are quite surprising. Over the last three seasons, two of which have been full 82-game seasons, the Islanders haven’t gotten off to great starts. The 2010-11 season saw the Islanders start off 4-10-3. It saw the firing of Scott Gordon, and the Islanders were 5-18-5 just before Christmas.

Then in 2011-12, the Islanders were 5-11-4 around Thanksgiving, 15-20-6 at the halfway mark and were doomed to another lottery pick. Even last year, the Islanders started off 4-7-3, which included an early five-game losing streak, before the team turned it on late and got into the playoffs.

The Islanders have gotten off to .500 or better starts at the beginning of the year in just a couple of seasons in recent history. 2007-08 saw the Islanders started the year 5-4-0, and 2009-10 saw the Islanders start off 4-4-5. That’s been it. Every other year, the Islanders have gotten off to slow starts.

This year’s club looks to really change that trend. Everybody knows that John Tavares is the star player on this team. Now, in order to build off that success from a season ago, Tavares needs a good supporting cast. That supporting cast around their best player is going to be key to the team’s success. Most of the core team is here around Tavares with guys like Josh Bailey, Kyle Okposo, Matt Moulson and Travis Hamonic.

Goalie Evgeni Nabokov said it best in an interview with Newsday last week. “October is important, but so is February. So is April … Consistency is what we need most, for the whole season.”

It won’t be easy for the Islanders to try and keep this pace up as they’ve got a tough week ahead of them. The team plays three times this week — Tuesday at home against the Phoenix Coyotes, then they take their game to the road for a game against the Chicago Blackhawks in Chicago on Friday and against the Nashville Predators in Nashville on Saturday.

Matthew Solomon covers the New York Islanders and the NHL for Rant Sports. You can follow me on Twitter, like me on Facebook and join my Google Network!

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