The New York Islanders are the hottest team in the NHL currently, they sit first in the Eastern Division. They also are tied for 3rd best in the entire NHL. They’ve won 7 straight games, had points in 18 of their 20 games, and still haven’t had a regulation loss at home.
This style of play and success differs greatly from their standing about a month ago. A month ago, the Islanders couldn’t buy a goal or a win, and their goalies were left out to dry every single game. Nowadays, everyone on the Islanders can score at any given time, they can’t seem to lose, and the defense has stood on their heads. What changed in just a month’s time?
The Islanders have some of the fastest players in the league, such as Mat Barzal, Anthony Beauvillier, JG Pageau, etc. Offensive zone time and passing improve when players are skating. If you’re flat-footed in the neutral zone or while receiving a pass, there are very few opportunities. Players like Jordan Eberle and Josh Bailey have improved greatly on moving their feet all the time. Defensemen such as Nick Leddy, Adam Pelech, and even Scott Mayfield have all created glorious chances through their skating. The whole team is skating, and not a single team can keep up.
Confidence and Momentum
I cannot stress how important confidence and momentum are to a team’s success. Back in February, players like Brock Nelson, Cal Clutterbuck, and many more couldn’t buy a goal. Look at these guys now, Nelson is second in goals with 11. Even Matt Martin has 5 goals, which is the same amount he had all of last year. The forwards feel as if they can score on every shot. The defensemen are confident in finding their assignments and pushing them off the puck. The goalies are playing some of the best Hockey they’ve ever played. All this confidence and momentum has lead to an Islander team that is tied 3rd in the league.