A brief (and partially analytical) recap of what has transpired in the first half of the 2015-16 season.
The complaint that the New York Islanders shoot far too little on the power play is justifiable, as evidenced by their 44.9 SF60 with the man advantage this season (good for twenty-eighth in the league). With all their offensive talent, the Isles have managed a below-average power play percentage (17.5%, twenty-first in the league), and have surrendered 3 shorthanded goals.
While the power play has been brutal, the penalty kill has been one of the biggest surprises for New York this season. Possessing the best penalty kill percentage in the league (87.7%), they have the best GA60 (on 4 vs 5 SH) in the league by an absurd 57 points.
While the Isles haven’t yet lost an in-division game, they are 2-8-2 against Atlantic division foes. This entails losing three games in the span of a month to the Montreal Canadiens, and falling to underwhelming opponents such as the Toronto Maple Leafs, Ottawa Senators and Buffalo Sabres.
Nope. New York’s first season at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York has been solid, even with many distractions. While fans failed to fill seats early in the season, they have recently been flocking to games, as the Isles are now 12-6-2 at home.
Okie with Nielsen, Okposo
Impending free agents Frans Nielsen and Kyle Okposo have been outstanding for the Isles this season. Likely motivated by being in a contract year, the two have combined for 21 goals and 29 assists (50 points) through 37 games. Nielsen also has the best CF% on the team, while Okposo ranks fourth in the same category.
The Greiss is Right
Greiss, who was inked to an affordable two-year, $3 million deal before the season, ranks fifth in the GAA department for backup netminders. Along with Jaroslav Halak, the Isles have a legitimate goaltending tandem, as both rank within the top 10 in all of the major goaltending statistics.
Strait Up Awful
Yes! Yes! Yes! Brian Strait is. The defenseman possesses the team’s worst CF%, and files out as one of the worst possession dmen in the league. Any chatter about a Brian Strait demotion/benching seems to be justified.
Isles be Streaky
When the Isles win, they do so in bunches. And when the Isles lose, they do so in bunches as well. After starting the season with two straight losses to the Blackhawks, the Isles won four consecutive games. In 2015-16 alone, they have went ten games without losing in regulation, lost three games in a row twice, and won three or more games in a row thrice.
Goalies on ?
While the NHL goaltenders have been hot, the minor leaguers have been even hotter. Ilya Sorokin, 20, has posted an absurdly awesome 0.99 GAA in 18 games for CSKA Moscow (KHL). Linus Soderstrom, 19, recently shut out the United States on 46 shots at the WJC, and has displayed a 1.90 GAA for Vita Hasten HC (Swe-1). Christopher Gibson, 23, has a 1.99 GAA for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (AHL).
The team’s prospect success doesn’t stop with the netminders. Mathew Barzal and Anthony Beauvillier both have points for Team Canada at the WJC, while Joshua Ho-Sang has 13 goals and 33 assists for Niagara (OHL).