The Islanders season is over. They were able to climb out of an early season hole and were able to make the season entertaining. Even though they made a run at the playoffs, this year was absolutely a step back. This season had the results that will make anyone step back and reexamine their steps moving forward. Accumulating only 94 points was not good enough, and it has nothing to do with anyone but the Islanders. This year exposed many flaws in the rebuilding of this team. At the end of the 2017 season, the Isles don’t feel any closer to winning a Stanley Cup than at the 2014-2015 season. That was when this team made its biggest strides forward. These three years may be the best three years of Islanders hockey since the eighties. Many of us were starved for competitive hockey, but let’s take a look to see how competitive they have actually been over the last three years.
The Islanders have faced their toughest competition within their own division. During these three years, the division has been controlled by Washington, Pittsburgh and the Rangers. During this time, the Islanders have only finished ahead of one of them for the regular season (the Penguins in 2015). While we want to believe that the Isles were on those teams level, there is no evidence of that. Looking at the last three years the Islanders average 98.3 points a season which would only be good enough for fourth place in the division, a full six points behind the Penguins (104.3) and seven behind the Rangers (105.3)( and more than 14 behind the Capitals who average 113). Keep in mind the Islanders have never finished ahead of third place, Columbus had a better season in 2017, than the Isles have had in more than two decades. If you took the average of the last three seasons, the Islanders would still be a Wild Card, not a Cup Contender.
You say, that’s the regular season who cares about that? The NHL is all about winning Lord Stanley’s Cup. Well over the last three years, the Islanders have played in a grand total of three playoff series, winning only one of them. Without adding more than one for each team this year, already 10 teams have played in more playoff series than the Islanders. During this time, they have been as successful as Calgary. During this three year stretch the Flames have appeared in the playoffs twice and won a series (not counting this year’s results). They also have finished in third place along with being the wild card. Now think about how you view the Calgary Flames. Do they seem like a credible Stanley Cup contender?
The Islanders have two seasons in which they reached 100 points. Which is not the feat it once was. With three point games, along with every game having a winner (no ties), accumulating points in today’s NHL cannot be compared to regular seasons before this century. The Isles are an above average team, and have been over the last three years. Everything that could have gone wrong this year basically did, if the Islanders play this season over again they may get 98 points and a playoff match up with Washington. Does that change the perception of this team? As we reach the end of this season the Islanders are at another crossroads. My dad had a saying “Is good enough, good enough?”. That is the question that the Islanders and their fans need to answer before the off season. They can continue moving forward, play entertaining hockey. They can be good enough to make the playoffs and who knows maybe win a round. People will be excited about this team and dream of the miracle run. Will they ever make the commitment to be a great team or “Is good enough, good enough?”