You would think after how much the Islanders have changed as a franchise from top to bottom the last two years, they might garner a little more recognition and respect from those outside Long Island.
But some things never change.
Even after theyâ€™ve made it to the postseason two straight years â€” last year ending in an Eastern Conference finals appearance â€” there are some who just wonâ€™t give them their due. And it continues to make you scratch your head.
You almost have to ask yourselves: does this team have to win a Stanley Cup just to finally be taken seriously? Anything else theyâ€™ve done going into this shortened season doesnâ€™t matter?
Moneypuck.com, the well-known source for its calculation of playoff probabilities and its season simulator, came out yesterday with its playoff odds. And true to what this article is about, they gave the Isles just a 40.8% chance of making the playoffs. Yep, less than 50% for a club with arguably the best head coach in the sport and a team that plays one of the stingiest defensive styles of all 31 teams.
Mind you ahead of them were the Devils, a club still in the rebuilding phase. The Rangers, a top-heavy club but one which was swept out of the playoff bubble. And the Penguins, a team who still has future Hall of Famers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, but lack any type of identity and seem to be on the downswing after being stunned by the Canadiens in the postseason.
I don’t know if insulting is the right word to use for this analysis, but it shows the Islanders are still not thought of as a “good” team.Â In reality they didn’t really become that much worse.
Trading Devon Toews wasn’t great, but having Noah Dobson as his immediate replacement softens the blow. Johnny Boychuk’s career-ending announcement came as a shock, but the team clearly has the depth defensively to forge on without him. Even losing Thomas Greiss and Derick Brassard doesn’t hurt as now some of their most-coveted prospects — Ilya Sorokin, Oliver Wahlstrom, Kieffer Bellows — get a chance to show what they’re made of.
Sure this season is going to be a dogfight for them, especially in the newly-minted East Division. Frankly, it’s probably the toughest division in hockey in mine and many’s eyes. But the Islanders are equipped to be one of the top squads in the division.
There are some who will still discredit them for not having stars or a solidified sniper. That still hasn’t stopped them from continuing to surprise. And it could be the case again even in a unique season such as the one that will get going when training camp opens this Sunday.
The Islanders and their fans continue to ask themselves what does this team have to do to gain some respect. It’s almost comical at this point.
More than that, it’s head-scratching.
To add to the theme of this blog, the Isles were once again slighted from being featured on national TV. NBC released its national TV schedule for the upcoming season and have the Islanders slotted to play just twice — Sunday, March 7th against Buffalo and April 18th at Philadelphia. You would think getting to the Conference Finals would mean at least more than two appearances in front of a nationwide audience, but no.
It really makes you wonder.
Take last year for example. The Devils, who had what people deemed a great offseason, were given four national games. Four! We all know how their season turned out before the pandemic hit.
Still, as much as NBC is all about ratings, it’s just another example of the powers at be being shortsighted.
And some will say it’s a non-issue when it comes to the Isles and they have every right their opinion. But when Islander fans see why their team is not getting the admiration they think they deserve, this is a part of the reason why.
Add in the fact that none of the eight times the Islanders and Rangers play was selected. That in itself is just ridiculous.