Don’t look now, but the New York Islanders are one of the best teams in the NHL in the first month of the season. Saturday, the top-scoring team in the NHL put on a goal scoring exhibition against a star-studded Dallas Stars team. The Isles topped the Stars 7-5 in what turned out to be the game of the year in front of a good crowd at Nassau Coliseum. Frans Nielsen put one in the back of the net as time expired to seal a hat trick and a win. The win got the Isles to 6-2-0 on the season and they currently are 6-3-0 after Tuesday’s loss to the Winnipeg Jets.
Heading into Halloween in 2014, the New York Islanders are the best team in New York.
Wait, what? It may sound crazy, but it’s true. The Rangers are 5-4-0 on the season. The Jets are the laughing stock of the NFL. The Giants are 3-4 and not in any playoff race yet. The Knicks and Nets are getting underway tonight. The Mets and Yankees both missed the playoffs. Not only are the Isles the beat team in New York, but they may provide the most hope for the future as well. They have a superstar in John Tavares. Trading for Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy has made Garth Snow look like a genius. Brock Nelson and Anders Lee both are shining and are just 23 and 24, respectively. The Isles goalies are light years better than they have had in a long time. Jaroslav Halak has been a bit up and down, but he’s got a hell of a backup in Chad Johnson. They have 10 players that are 24 years old or younger.
“We’re working well together. There’s a lot of talk, a lot of communication. Our different styles work well together,” said the 24-year-old center Anders Lee. The young center has shined with his buddy Brock Nelson.
“We know each other pretty well on and off the ice,” Lee said.
It’s safe to say the future is shining bright on a team that calls Long Island their home for another seven months. Long Islanders may not be too fond of the move to Brooklyn in 2015, but they should be thrilled with the on-ice product. This team may be a year or two away from contending for a Stanley Cup title. Forget winning a playoff series for the first time in two decades, this team should have a championship on their minds. That is no longer a pipe dream for a franchise starving for prolonged success for the first time since their four straight Stanley Cup titles from 1980-1983.
This team may not be perfect, but you can’t overlooked their strong start. Head coach Jack Capuano’s squad has a special feel to it this year. They are playing for their Long Island faithful. 2015 marks the end of an era and a new beginning right by their rivals, who will be just a couple miles away. This team has more talent than any Isles team in recent memory. They need to uplift this fan base. They have only made the playoffs once the past seven years, and that came in a lockout-shortened season. Fans want to see not just a playoff series at the Old Barn, but a conference semifinals there.
Saturday’s game was a good sign of what is to come for this team. The usual Isles would have blown the two-goal lead and lost. This team fought back and scored goals at will against one of the best teams in the NHL in the Stars. This organization is all-in and fans should fill up the Old Barn every night… for one final time. This will be quite the send off to the Barclays Center, and a title probably won’t come in Long Island, but there will be one coming soon enough… in Brooklyn.