New York Islanders

Although the New York Islanders haven’t quite lived up to the lofty expectations of both their fans and the media, they’re in good company.

By Justin Weiss

Since roughly the middle of December the New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens — the top two teams during the first few months of the season — have both experienced unparalleled slides that have left them on the brink of not qualifying for the playoffs.

Outside of the Washington Capitals who are consistently proving that they are far-and-away the best team in the Eastern Conference at this point of the year, most teams just don’t have much to boast about as the second half of the season begins.

Sure, both the New Jersey Devils and Florida Panthers have left many people stunned as they have quickly risen to prominence, but look at nearly any other team.

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Take the defending Eastern Conference Champions, the Tampa Bay Lightning, as an example and of how teams haven’t been able to find any consistency.

As The New York Post reported in late January, “There are barely any good NHL teams and it sucks.”

Well, if the New York Islanders can go on some sort of a late-season run, they could potentially take advantage of a weak conference and push their luck in the playoffs which is notorious for producing unexpected winners.

The Isles seem to be setting themselves up for a late push, with top defenseman Johnny Boychuk set to return from injury and John Tavares poised to break out of a gruesome slump.

The team took a step in the right direction last night.

Even with Jean François Berube in net the Isles handily beat the Minnesota Wild by a score of 5-3. This win comes after they were swept by Thomas Vanek’s team last season.

Head coach Jack Capuano spoke with Newsday writer Steven Marcus and had this to say:

“There’s got to be an accountability factor amongst the guys. It’s going to come from the coaches on who we put in the lineup, but if we’re going to have any success at all and we want to make a run at this, those guys have to hold each other accountable. Great teams have accountability amongst themselves.”

Capuano went on to say:

“There’s a lot of friendships — I get it — but you got to be able to call one another out and expect the job that you want to go in the foxhole with one of your teammates. And that’s what it’s going to take if you want to get to the dance or get where you want to be.’’

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Justin Weiss is a staff editor at Elite Sports New York, where he covers the New York Islanders and Brooklyn Cyclones. In 2016, he received a Quill Award for Freelance Journalism. He has written for the Long Island Herald, FanSided and YardBarker.