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Some positive notes on this Islanders season


The Islanders have had probably one of the worst seasons in the franchise’s history. From a points standpoint, the Islanders are a middle of the road team and this team has a bright future. However, with the John Tavares UFA decision looming and what seems to be a never-ending rebuild never coming to fruition, this team has severely underperformed.

With a potential franchise shifting move ahead regarding John Tavares, there is still plenty of hope going forward. As negative as most Islander fans are about this season, there is plenty to be excited about with or without JT. Let’s put a positive spin on this negative season.

Mathew Barzal’s Dazzling Ability

Mat Barzal is going to be a superstar in the NHL. He is already a shoe-in for the Calder Trophy and is far and away the best rookie this season. He has the scoring prowess of a Patrick Kane, the vision of a Nicklas Backstrom, and the ticker-tape passing ability that only Sidney Crosby possesses. I may be getting a little ahead of myself but he has shown time and time again that he is the real deal and is only going to improve.

Barzal is the first rookie since Nicklas Backstrom in the 2007-2008 season with 50+ assists. He has the most points as a rookie in Islanders history and is closing in on 80 points overall. The 56 assists are also the most in Islanders history, and he can score too. The fact that Barzal still has 20 goals while dishing out all those assists is a real telling stat for this youngster.

Anders Lee’s Knack For Goals

Anders Lee is a special player. He is the best power forward the Islanders have had in a very long time. He may be the best since the great John Tonelli during the dynasty years. Either way, Anders Lee is on his way to his first 40 goal season, even with all this negativity surrounding the team.

Lee is a consummate professional on and off the ice. He is a force to be reckoned with some significant power down low and excellent hand-eye coordination to deflect shots up front. He has improved defensively and has the potential to score 50 goals one day. I was actually at Lee’s first game as an NHLer when he scored against the Winnipeg Jets. I knew he was going to be special one day and he has developed into a future NHL All-Star.

The Emergence Of Ryan Pulock

The much-maligned defense of the Islanders has come into question many times during the season.  They are on pace to become the first team in NHL history to give up 300+ goals.  However, Ryan Pulock is not one of the reasons for this.

Pulock has developed into a solid NHL defenseman and will only get better as it takes a few years for D-men to develop fully. He is currently on a five-game point streak with two goals and five assists in those games. He is not great defensively but is definitely competent in his own end, using his size to his advantage to bury forwards into the corner. He also has an incredible slapshot, clocking in at over 100 MPH. He is a bright spot in an otherwise unassuming Islanders defense.

See folks?  It is not all bad. The Islanders are currently 31-33-10 with just 72 points on the season. They sit in the basement of the Metro Division and are clearly going to miss the playoffs. As I said, it is not all sunshine and rainbows for the Islanders, but it could always be worse. There are a lot of good things to look for in the future and hopefully with the re-signing of John Tavares they can become a perennial Stanley Cup contender in just a year or two. Us Islander fans have been waiting for that for a very long time.

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