It’s getting to the point wins become expected for the Islanders.
Think about this sentence for a minute. Even after doing that, one would think it would be a misnomer. Just like the Islanders are coached by Barry Trotz and run by Hall of Fame executive Lou Lamoriello. In 2019, both statements are actually true.
All the Islanders do is win, and the good times kept rolling on Thursday night when the Islanders took a 4-3 victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins in overtime at Barclays Center. This win extended the Islanders’ point streak to 16 games at 15-0-1, surpassing the three 15-game point streaks in Islanders history, most recently a 15-0-0 run from Jan. 21 to Feb. 20, 1982 followed by a 13-0-2 run from November to December 1980 and 12-0-3 from November to December 1978. They haven’t lost in regulation since Oct. 11.
To add to this, the Islanders won five in a row and 15 of 16 to improve to 16-3-1 to start the season. They won three straight overtime games. They came back from a 3-0 deficit to beat the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3 in a shootout at Philadelphia this past Saturday, and on Tuesday, they came back from a 4-2 deficit to beat the Penguins 5-4 in overtime at Pittsburgh. They showed their resilience again when they beat the Penguins in overtime after blowing a 3-2 lead late in the third period, which Patric Hornqvist tied the game at three with 29.9 seconds to go in regulation.
Even a cynic has to love what’s going on. Sure, it’s about the playoffs, but sports should be fun, too in a long season, and this run should have New Yorkers excited in a climate that features many sports teams being awful.
The Islanders played through so many awful seasons in the last decade for any Islanders fan to poo-poo anything their team does in this run.
From observing Islanders fans on Twitter, they enjoy and appreciate this. They know it’s been a long-time coming for a fanbase that is used to watching bad hockey for a long time.
The players report to work expecting to win each game rather than hoping. Refreshing contrast to back in the days when the Islanders hope to win and get by. Lamoriello and Trotz deserve credit for changing the culture right there since they got the job with the Islanders, and Islanders owners Scott Malkin and Jon Ledecky should be commended for convincing Lamoriello and Trotz to work for the Islanders.
Trotz said it so well after the game when he mentioned the Islander way by saying players come to work, compete every night and give the best effort. He related his players to Long Islanders who put in an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay by saying it’s a reflection of how they play.
No question the players and coaches enjoy going to work. Who wouldn’t like going to work when everything goes well? Practice turns out to be easy, and games become fun. The guys know what to expect each day. Winning becomes contagious, and that has been the case with the Islanders under Trotz and Lamoriello.
The Islanders know how to win. These three recent comeback victories proved to be proof positive to this theory. In all of those recent wins, they started off flat, but they picked it up as the game went on and they played like a better team.
Those recent wins turn into next-level stuff as in championship level. When a team plays from behind and still win the game. It shows right that team has what it takes to win a championship. It makes Islanders fans want to dream about a Stanley Cup parade at Hempstead Turnpike this spring. The Islanders aim to make this dream a reality.
This past week can make anyone believe. The Islanders have the players and coaches to make it happen. We know how great Trotz is at his job in coaching this team up. But the players know what it takes than people credit for. They find ways to make plays whether it’s on defense or on offense.
Brock Nelson serves as an example. On his 500th game of the season Thursday night, he scored the game-winning overtime goal that kept the point streak going. That goal turned out to be his fourth game-winning goal of the season and his third overtime goal during the Islanders’ 16-point streak. It also was his 21st career game-winner.
Prior to Hornqvist’s goal, Nelson scored a power-play goal with 4:52 remaining in the third period after he won the face-off to give the Islanders a 3-2 lead.
Nelson defines clutch. He knows how to be at the right spot at the right time in getting a much-needed goal. That’s more than than failed Islander John Tavares can say in his forgettable Islander career.
It isn’t just him. Same can be said for Anthony Beauvillier, Casey Cizikas, Josh Bailey and Jordan Eberle. Also, Devon Toews provides value with his defense.
Everything seems ripe for the Islanders to do even better things this season after coming of a successful season last year by making the playoffs and advancing to the second round after Tavares left to sign with the Maple Leafs.
They head to the West Coast to play the San Jose Sharks, Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings. It serves as another test about their championship mettle. If they can dominate and win those games, this should be another sign the Islanders are Stanley Cup worthy this season.
The curiosity continues, and the good story continues to be written.