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Ryder: Despite Inept Stretch, Islanders Have the Tools to Finish Strong

Finishing up the regular season strong is an important part of a successful campaign. As evidenced over the last few weeks, the New York Islanders haven’t been riding on the plane you’d hope they would be on down the stretch.

If the Islanders were a small watercraft, they’d currently be stuck on a sand bar. All the rocking and pushing in the world hasn’t been able to budge this baby back into motion.

An impressive start and even more exhilarating stretch following the loss of captain Anders Lee to season-ending knee surgery was encouraging, to say the least. The momentum lost in Lee’s departure was quickly recaptured. That said a lot about this group.

Now that the Isles have come down from that high, it’s been a struggle to rediscover that spark. Time is running out to right that ship before the playoffs begin. Backing into the tournament is always a less-than-ideal scenario.

The front office made solid additions in Travis Zajac and Kyle Palmieri and have seen solid play from last year’s in-season acquisition, Jean-Gabriel Pageau. Always moving forward, even if it doesn’t appear so all the time.

They even got Anthony Beauvillier going, notching eight goals and six assists over his last 20 games after registering just six points over his first 20.

Despite a prolonged goal drought from Mathew Barzal, the young dynamo still has 39 points in 49 games this season. More than sufficient, no doubt. Though one has to wonder where this team would be right now not for his late-season dropoff in production.

The team’s 48.2 percent Corsi For is a solid increase over their 46.5 percent mark last season, lending credence to the efficiency and effectiveness of Barry Trotz’s signature style of play.

The Isles’ goaltending has been terrific. Semyon Varlamov (.926) and rookie wunderkind Ilya Sorokin (.918) rank fifth and 13th, respectively, in the league in save percentage and Varlamov’s 2.12 and Sorokin’s 2.19 goals-against averages are good for fifth and ninth, respectively.

It’s like clockwork how this organization gets the absolute most out of their last line of defense. Stick taps across the board for Mitch Korn and Piero Greco.

As for the traditional line of defense, Ryan Pulock’s 3.6 defensive point shares (11th in the league) and Adam Pelech’s 3.2 DPS (18th) have stood out tremendously. Devon Toews’ 3.8 DPS for Colorado stands out but in a much more painful way.

In any case, this team has the leadership and talent to make serious waves over the next few months. A setback here or rough patch there doesn’t change that. Buckle up, kiddos. Things are about to get exciting.



Follow Tim on Twitter at @TimothyRRyder

About Tim Ryder

Native of the South Shore of Long Island. Super fan. Family man. I'm also a baseball writer. Follow me on Twitter @TimothyRRyder

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