It had become a running joke in the waning days of the Jack Capuano era. The Islanders were so bad possession-wise that it had become laughable.
Critics of the Isles' system pointed to their gaping hole in their Corsi rating to show why any kind of sustained success was not possible as long as the team stayed on the current course.
Well, New York has charted a new path with interim head coach Doug Weight at the helm, and the team is responding in a big way. Most notably, the Islanders have been a much better possession team since Weight's first game as head coach on January 10.
Let's be clear: the Islanders are nowhere near the beast they were two years ago. Their overall Corsi For Percentage number still sits at 46.6, which is second-worst in the NHL. But that number should frame up just how much better the Isles have been in the past week.
Over the course of the Islanders' point streak, New York has still been out-attempted at 5-on-5, but only barely, by a 230-to-222 margin (good for a 49.1 Corsi For Percentage).
The big glaring exception to the improvement they have shown was the one overtime loss, where the Flyers out-attempted the Isles 65-to-48 at even strength (83-to-63 in all situations). If you take that game away, in the Isles' four wins during this stretch, they have out-attempted their opponents 174-to-165 (51.3 CF%) at even strength, and 235-to-201 in all situations (53.9 CF%).
Those numbers get even better when you realize the Isles were out-attempted 11-1 in the final eight minutes of the third period against Columbus, while holding a three-goal lead, in no real danger of coughing up that game. And the team had one of its best possession games of the season on Thursday, when they out-attempted the Canadians 45-32 at 5-on-5 and 61-to-40 overall (all stats courtesy of Eric Hornick).
So what can account for this change? It's hard to say. Obviously, Weight has emphasized a need for the Islanders to get out of their own zone, but I doubt Capuano was standing behind the bench actively discouraging offensive opportunities.
Is it simply that the players are revitalized, healthy, and many are just more comfortable? It's hard to dispute that, either, with Andrew Ladd and Jason Chimera even getting in on the action. And it certainly helps that John Tavares is just on a different level right now, with eight goals and five assists in his last eight games.
Whatever the case may be, there's renewed hope for this season. And for once, it doesn't feel like an unsustainable blip on the radar.
Maybe this Islanders team is just better now. And if that's the case, a late-season run isn't out of the realm of possibility.