Andy Graziano, SNY.TV Twitter
23 games in and it's clear to see these are not your 2016-17 New York Islanders, who stumbled out of the gate, leading to a one-point deficit in their chase to return to the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Led by a legitimate second line for the first time in awhile and an unexpected leading scorer, they have won six of their last seven and are coming off a stretch of three games in four nights where they won all three.
- Mathew Barzal continues to impress. And impress. And impress. The 20-year old is on a six-game point streak and is averaging a point per game, at 6-17-23. He has points in 15 of his last 18 games and leads all rookies in scoring. The team, led by his dynamic play, has legitimate secondary scoring.
- The Islanders, for all their trouble keeping the puck out of their own net (yesterday was only the fifth time they have allowed two goals or less), are scoring more than enough to compensate. You wonder how long that can last, however, in today's NHL.
- The Islanders' team PDO (indicator of 'puck luck') is slightly above average at 101.7. While some regression might be expected in shooting percentage (can't have much more in save percentage), the team is banking valuable early season points that can be withdrawn later in the event of a slump. Why New York, and so many other teams, speak of needing a fast start.
- If there is an early season Norris trophy candidate at the quarter mark, you cannot dismiss Nick Leddy and what's he has meant to the Islanders' sustaining offense and in transition. Not to mention, he has 6-15-21 in 23 games, the best start of his Islanders career.
- Took a Twitter poll last night among Isles fans and thank you to the overwhelming response (670 votes). Josh Bailey edged John Tavares 45% to 41% for team MVP thus far with Barzal getting tons of write-in votes. With Barzal being a rookie and up for the Calder, I decided to not list him as a choice.
- Andrew Ladd has been playing his best hockey since being signed as a free agent. You can tell by the way he's been skating that he's over the back injury that plagued him for the first half of 2016-17.
- Ryan Pulock has now sat out the last three games and with the team winning, and winning last night in defensive fashion, you have to wonder when he gets his chance to return. Usually, and I say usually, Doug Weight and the coaching staff doesn't like to mix too many things up when the team is rolling.
- With all this talk of Oliver Ekman-Larsson 'maybe' being available in February, if you're general manager Garth Snow, you have the pieces to make a huge offer. It's been suggested the team could start with struggling Brock Nelson or Anthony Beauvillier, utilize those valuable draft picks acquired in the Travis Hamonic deal, and throw a defenseman in as well. Question is, if you had to throw in a young d-man, you including Pulock or Scott Mayfield at this point?
- Jordan Eberle spoke out against the Edmonton media and its harsh criticism of his play, saying 'It's hard to read daily that you suck and not have it affect you'. We, as media, sometimes complain when players are too scripted and robotic in their answers, then complain about their honesty. Can't have it both ways. Players, at the end of the day, are just like you and me outside of their incredible talent for playing the game.
- Casey Cizikas will be re-evaluated today to see the extent of his lower body injury suffered last night. This is an underrated player whose presence will be missed should he miss any significant time. And in a significant way too, I fear.
- Joshua Ho-Sang has come back from Bridgeport and done, for the most part, what the team wanted all along. Keep his game simple and be mindful of his defensive responsibilities. Except for a few hiccups, he has done exactly that and has points in three of his last five games.
- New York has played 14 road games to only nine at Barclays Center, where they are 7-0-2. The schedule doesn't shift until mid-December, when they will be home for a stretch of seven of nine to close out the calendar year.