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Isles Check-In: One Third Done

With a third of the season gone, I decided to check in on some of the IslesBlog crew to see what they think the high point and low point of the season have been, as well as what they are pessimistic and optimistic about going forward.

High Points:

James Nichols (JN) – Lee, Barzal, and Eberle are all performing at a high level. Emphasis on Eberle because he usually starts slow. Barzal is evolving into the elite forward we all knew he would become, and it’s encouraging to see some say he could even be in the same level as the McDavids and MacKinnons of the NHL.

Brooks Simpson (BS) – Noah Dobson’s development compensating for Toews departure.

Ryan Dunnigan (RD) – Beating Boston for the second time this season.

Eric Vogel (EV) – I stood up out of my chair when I saw this goal.

Low Point:

RD – Blowing the 2-1 lead against Pittsburgh and not even salvaging a point.

BS – Middle-six forward struggles for guys not named Pageau.

JN – Bailey looks like he’s skating in quicksand, and Mayfield can’t get the puck out of his own zone. Some of those individual inconsistencies are keeping the Islanders back from their true ability to dominate games.

EV – That early five-game losing streak did not have me in a good place, but seeing them recover from that has felt good.

Pessimism:

Ben Mandell (BM) – Lou (Lamoriello) showing he’s not ready to adapt to the new style of game by filling the roster with expensive vets.

JN – I wasn’t particularly thrilled with how Bellows was handled regarding his last game. Yes he made some costly mistakes, but it was his first game back in the lineup in weeks, and he was thrown back in the top-six as if he had been playing there for years. Accountability is important, but where was that when Komarov needed it earlier this year?

RD – Lack of goal scoring. Biggest thing to be pessimistic about going into the season and it wasn’t addressed and it’s showing. I question how far this team can go if they can’t light the lamp consistently.

BS – Team scoring.

Optimism:

JN – I’m thoroughly impressed with Dobson and Wahlstrom thus far. The Isles don’t have a history of developing forward prospects well, yet Wahlstrom seems on the bring of breaking out at any moment. With Dobson, we knew he’d be good, but I don’t think we knew he’d be this good. I think he’ll be an elite defenseman in this league, and soon.

BM – Varlamov showing he’s one of the best goalies in the East and Barzal’s continued development.

BS – Sorokin’s development into a high-caliber NHL goalie.

RD – The huge potential of Wahlstrom and Dobson.

Dani Mohr (DM) – Barzal and his future with the Isles. He’s already proven that he has the potential to go above and beyond, but I’m confident that he will be the leading scorer at the end of the season.
EV – I’m pretty sure Wahlstrom is going to drop a five-goal week on us some time in the next month or so. Oh, and Barry Trotz is still the coach of this team.
Despite some early struggles and continued scoring woes, the team continues to have highlights and lowlights.  I am fine with both so long as they hold on to that playoff spot because this team plays a brand of hockey that, as we found out last year, translates well to the post season.
Feel free to give us your own highs, lows, optimism, and pessimism (is this even really a thing in the Islanders fandom?) in the comments!
Follow Eric on Twitter at @ericsvogel

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