Jordan Eberle New York Islanders
(Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

After sweeping the Philadelphia Flyers, it’s safe to say that these aren’t the same old New York Islanders.

Nobody would have been surprised if the New York Islanders had lost one—or both—of their games against the Philadelphia Flyers this week. All signs pointed to disappointing outcomes for Brooklyn’s finest.

In Wednesday’s 4-3 overtime victory at Barclays Center, the Isles watched Philadelphia score just 46 seconds into the second period, breaking a 1-1 tie. After taking the lead on back-to-back goals from Johnny Boychuk and Josh Ho-Sang, Philly evened things up—and proceeded to outshoot the Isles 16-to-8 in the third period.

Friday in Philly, the Islanders allowed four second-period goals, numbers three and four coming within 20 seconds of each other. Instead of leading by one, they were down by two.

In the not-so-distant past, those are things that would have spelled doom for the boys in blue and orange. But rather than accept defeat, they battled back. They refused to lose and decided to win. It’s something that wasn’t lost on head coach Doug Weight, who had this to say after Friday’s 5-4 overtime win on the road.

Let’s break down what Weight is saying here.

“We’re playing our game at a more consistent rate.” True, though that consistency includes at least one stretch per game where fans can’t help but feel like the ice is collapsing underneath the team’s feet.

“We felt at the end of the second we were going to win the game and they came out and they did it. It’s a huge win.” Think about this for a minute. The Isles were outscored 4-to-1 in the second period. Philadelphia scored the last two goals of the period. Yet they still believed that they were going to win.

Veteran forward Andrew Ladd, who scored the game-tying goal that forced Friday’s overtime and who, despite his best efforts, will never live up to the gaudy seven-year, $38.5 million contract the team handed him before last season, sees a different mindset on the bench and in the locker room.

“Anytime we’re down, I don’t think there’s much panic on the bench.”

It’s easy to say that professional athletes shouldn’t be panicking when things start to go wrong. It’s even easier to forget that these guys are human, not machines. While the Isles have plenty of experienced veteran leadership, it’s pretty much the same group they had last year. Ladd, Boychuk, John Tavares, Cal Clutterbuck, Nick Leddy.

So what’s changed? Why is this team, with the same leadership group in place, able to overcome situations that they couldn’t before?

Weight having an entire offseason, training camp and now, a quarter of a regular season to implement his systems is part of it. His revamped coaching staff—which includes former NHL players Kelly Buchberger, Scott Gomez and Luke Richardson—also plays a part.

But it’s the relatively inexperienced youngsters, many of whom are playing significant roles—guys like Ho-Sang, Mathew Barzal, Anthony Beauvillier, Adam Pelech and, to a lesser extent, Scott Mayfield and Ryan Pulock—that have made the biggest difference.

Sure, they’re supremely talented, capable of making highlight-reel plays on a nightly basis. But the enthusiasm and energy they bring to the game is contagious. And it’s spread throughout the roster like the common cold.

Isles fans just have to hope that, like colds, there is no cure.

I've been dunked on by Shaq and yelled at by Mickey Mantle. ESNY Editor In Chief. UMass alum. Former National Columnist w/Bleacher Report & former member of NY Knicks Basketball Ops department. Nephew of Rock & Roll Royalty.