The New York Islanders (13-3-1) are the second-best team in the Eastern Conference with 27 points and trailing the Washington Capitals (14-2-4) and their NHL-leading 32 points. The Islanders split their home games between Barclays Center in Brooklyn and Nassau Coliseum Arena on Long Island.

New York Islanders Barry Trotz
NY Islanders center Mathew Barzal celebrates scoring goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Nassau Coliseum in Hempstead, NY. (Image: Dennis Schneidler/USA Today Sports)

The Islanders defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-4 to improve to 12-0-1 in their last 13 games. Anthony Beauvillier scored two goals and Derick Brassard scored a goal and added two assists.

The Islanders recently had a 10-game winning streak thwarted by the Pittsburgh Penguins. But they’ve won two in a row since then and trying to start another big win streak.

The Islanders baffled stats geeks and zealots that swear by hockey analytics last season and Barry Trotz’s team is doing that once again with timely shot selection and stellar goaltending and their 2.29 goals against average.

Trotz won a Stanley Cup with the Washington Capitals preaching a quality over quantity approach to both offense and defense. While most teams try to boost their shots on goal, Trotz wants his team to be more selective and take higher percentage shots. On defense, he does not want his team to contest every shot and push their opponents out of their comfort spots.

As a result, the numbers baffle analytics departments all over North America. The Islanders are outshot almost every night, yet continue to come away with victories. They have a well-balanced scoring attack and you never know who the leading scorer on any given night might be.

Quality Over Quantity

Mathew Barzal scored only 18 goals last season and he’s notched eight in 17 games this season. Two seasons ago he scored 22 goals and added 63 assists in his rookie season with the Islanders.

“With guys getting healthy, it gives us internal motivation because everybody is trying to stay in the lineup,” said Islanders coach Barry Trotz. “We are starting to get healthy now and everyone is trying to get a piece of the pie because there are only so many pieces to go around.”

The Islanders are super hot right now due to sensational goaltending from Thomas Greiss and Semyon Varlamov. The two allowed only 49 goals through 17 games.

Greiss is 7-1-0 with a 94.2 save percentage. He is the top goalie in the league allowing 1.88 goals per game. He’s 6-0-0 in his last six starts in net.

Veteran goalie Semyon Varlamov joined the Islanders after spending eight seasons with the Colorado Avalanche. Varlamov is 6-2-1 this season with a 2.56 goals against average and 91.7 save percentage.

They kill 85.7 percent of their penalties for sixth best in the NHL. They’re also tied for third in the NHL allowing only 7 power play goals.

Strong Island and New Islanders Arena

The Islanders are 9-2-1 at home this season, which is split between their old rundown arena at Uniondale on Long Island and Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The Islanders share Barclay’s with the Nets, but they also play 28 home games at their old haunt.

The amenities at Nassau Coliseum are poor, but the sweat box has plenty of ghosts from hockey past. The Islanders built a dynasty with four Stanley Cup championships in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The fan base has always been mostly working class suburbanites on Long Island versus the bourgeoisie NY Rangers fans in Manhattan.

Lifelong fans were not happy when the team relocated to Brooklyn when Barclays opened. The swanky new arena was technically in New York City and not an easy commute for fans from Long Island, or “Strong Island” as the blue collar locals dubbed it.

The Islanders’ new home, named Belmont Park arena, will be located at Belmont Park next to the historic racetrack. Construction is ahead of schedule and the Islanders hope to move in before the start of the 2021-22 season.