New York Islanders: 'It ain't over 'til it's over'
Nov 18, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders left wing Andrew Ladd (16) and Pittsburgh Penguins right wing Bryan Rust (17) fight for the puck during the third period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Islanders could turn their season around with a strong West Coast trip.

Two seasons ago, the floundering Islanders went to the West Coast with the hopes of salvaging their playoff chances. They emerged with a newfound sense of confidence, and ultimately reached the 100-point plateau for the first time in decades.

Sounds familiar?

That’s because the Isles have the opportunity to turn their season around with a strong West Coast trip. At the very least, winning a pair of games against formidable opponents should prove something to themselves: they’re better than this.

The Isles have dropped from second to 22nd in the league in penalty-kill percentage. Their goals per game average ranks in the bottom-third of the conference. The duo’s (Jaroslav Halak and Thomas Greiss) combined save percentage is underwhelming.

Most concerning, the team’s prized offseason acquisitions, Andrew Ladd and Jason Chimera, have been uninspiring, at best.

But all of this is reversible. It’s the Kool-Aid view, no doubt, but the Isles can turn things around this week. The team faces the Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks on the road, and can emerge with a newfound sense of self-confidence if they can string a pair of wins together.

It’s been an Isles tradition to struggle during the season’s second month. It’s been much more alarming this year, as there were actual expectations heading into the season. But the players understand the significance of this trip. It was captain John Tavares who spoke about its importance two seasons ago, when he looked back in retrospect and stated, “I think we got better as the road trip went on, and I think that’s a good sign.”

It would be a good sign if the Isles can recreate that magic this go-round.

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.