3 out of 4 ain't bad (but Isles want more)
The New York Islanders collected three out of four possible points in their first two games of the 2013-14 season. Although the team relinquished a 2-0 third period lead, the Isles have to feel great about themselves going into Tuesday’s match up with the Phoenix Coyotes.
Following the pomp and circumstance of the home opener, the Islanders took the ice with business as usual in mind. The mission: to build on their short lived playoff experience and move further, both literally and figuratively.
Coming out on Saturday, the team looked fast and explosive. They also looked like a confident bunch. Confidence is an integral part of their success this year and that could be the key to this whole equation.
These moments are not bigger than them anymore. The Islanders take the home opener shoot out loss in stride and will continue to build knowing there will be highs and lows this season. Through two games, it is obvious that they are no longer questioning their legitimacy in the NHL.
Only a year ago, after a deflating, lead blowing loss, the team would begin to question themselves and that way of thinking started to fester.
That slight lapse of confidence and questioning started to result in long losing streaks that eventually cost the Islanders’ seasons.
This team seems different.
The team and the fans know that the Islanders belong in the conversation of best young teams in the league. John Tavares helped rebuild a broken fan base and is quickly making the most cynical fan, optimistic. With a NHL elite player at the helm as captain, they have stock piled enough pieces around him to make themselves more than relevant.
Elite NHL teams have one significant thing in common. The commonality is that they all avoid long losing streaks. The Islanders have to transfer this confidence into not allowing any loss to snowball. It can save a season from spiraling out of control.
Even in a losing effort on Saturday, the Islanders looked impressive. Their effort had Columbus thankful to walk out with the win. The team is making a positive impact on their competition and they are gaining respect all throughout the NHL and with good reason.
Stability in the locker room and on the ice was important at the end of last year. This stability will continue to be a driving force in their success throughout this 13-14 campaign. The Islanders have returned a familiar cast with some playoff experience feathers placed in their caps. This cast seems to be skating with a swagger after strutting their stuff against the top seeded Penguins.
That swagger will come in handy when the going gets tough during the long 82 game season.
Forgotten in the return of popularity of wearing an Islanders jersey in public as a fan, is the feeling the players experienced on Long Island last year. From April-May 2013, there was no hotter ticket on Long Island. The Coliseum was alive with fervor and palpable excitement. The team has fed off of that excitement and got a taste for success that has created a hunger for a winning culture.
As heartbreaking as the loss in Game 5 was in Pittsburgh, the Islanders took more from it than any win in the last 10 years.
The team must continue the upward climb and play with the confidence they have shown in the last two games. The team will skate at home against Phoenix tomorrow night at 7.