Coming into this season, the New York Islanders sat at the bottom of the Atlantic Division for five straight seasons. They hadn’t made the playoffs since 2007, where they lost to the Buffalo Sabres in five games in the first round. No team may ever be able to match the team that the Islanders had in the early 80′s, but they showed this season that they’re taking steps in the proper direction to be a contender in the playoffs. The Islanders finished up the season with a record of 24-17-7 good enough for 55 points and the last spot in the Eastern Conference. This season they averaged 1.14 points a game, compared to the .96 points they averaged the season before. Once again, a step in the right direction.
The Islanders were led by alternate captain (and maybe the soon to be captain in New York?), John Tavares. Tavares led the team with 28 goals and 47 points. Tavares was nominated for the Hart Trophy for the first time in his short career this season, but fell short as Alex Ovechkin took home the hardware this season. In my opinion, Tavares should have won the Hart. He played consistently all season, rather than showing up for the final few weeks of the season like Ovechkin. Either way, Tavares will get better, and has a chance to win a good number of Hart trophies before his time in the NHL is up.
Matt Moulson led the Islanders with 29 assists and added 15 goals to his point total as well. Moulson was nominated for the Lady Byng this season, racking up 44 points in 47 games and only amassed four penalty minutes. Once again, in my opinion, Moulson should have won the Lady Byng, and not Martin St. Louis. But it’s all said and done now, and both Moulson and Tavares can look to the future and start collecting their trophies another time.
The Islanders goaltender, Evgeni Nabokov, re-signed with the club on the first day of free agency. Nabokov will be back this season making a pocket of cash worth $3.25 million. With the whole Rick Dipietro situation finally closed, the Islanders need to start looking to the future in net. Nabokov is a short term solution to the problem, and he really isn’t even a solution to the problem. Did you see him battling it out with Marc-Andre Fluery in the Quarter Finals? Nabokov wasn’t playing so hot either. Once Tomas Vokoun took the cage in place of a dismantled Fluery, the Penguins were in business. Nabokov never really settled down in net for the entirety of the series, but he was going up against the Pittsburgh Penguins high flying offense. Pittsburgh won the series in six games, sending the Islanders home without a secondround appearance since 1993.
Nabokov will be turning 38 in a few weeks (make sure to send him a b-day card on the 25th!). I’m just curious as to what they want to do long term, because he’s getting older and his game hasn’t been awesome. Ilya Bryzgalov is still available, the Buffalo Sabres want to move Ryan Miller (for a very shiny penny I’m sure), or there’s even Tim Thomas. Thomas might be better in net, but he’s not really going to solve the long term problem, since he’s older than Nabokov.
The Islanders were tied for the 10th best powerplay in the league at 19.9%. The Islanders did a great job of staying out of the box this season. They found themselves shorthanded 142 times this season, good for 5th best in the NHL. The penalty kill, when it was needed anyway, rocked out a mediocre 80.3%. Not terrible play from the special teams this season, but with the loss of Mark Streit on the defensive end, I don’t see it getting much better. The Islanders did add a couple of forwards in free agency, Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Peter Regin both signed one year contracts for $2 million.
The Islanders will hardly switch division this next season. The entire Atlantic Division will stay together while adding the Washington Capitals, Columbus Blue Jackets, and Carolina Hurricanes to complete Division IV, which is arguably the toughest division.
Topics: Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Nabokov, Ilya Bryzgalov, John Tavares, Mark Streit, Martin St. Louis, Matt Moulson, New York Islanders, Peter Regin, Pierre-marc Bouchard, Pittsburgh Penguins, Ryan Miller, Season In Review, Tim Thomas, Tomas Vokoun