There are a lot of questions surrounding the New York Islanders as they head into next season. The biggest one will be whether or not they are capable of making the playoffs for the second year in a row.
The NHL Facebook page recently asked this same question, and many fans were either skeptical, positive or found the idea downright absurd (and these weren't just Rangers fans).
Despite an intense, hard fought playoff series with a very inexperienced roster against the Pittsburgh Penguins, a team that has been one of the most dominant forces of the league for the past few years, many critics are still not convinced that the New York Islanders are a guaranteed playoff team.
The Islanders were very busy at the start of an off-season that forecasted a flurry of movement from GM Garth Snow. On the agenda was signing a number-one goaltender and top-six forward, both of which took place on July 5th. A few other moves were made to help keep the core intact for many years to come, as well as removing another bad apple from the organization (Photo Credit: Official New York Islanders/Flickr).
After signing forward Peter Regin to what is seemingly a depth signing, the Isles quickly looked to fill the void left in the crease.
The Isles were reportedly interested in goaltender Ray Emery, who ended up signing a contract with the Philadelphia Flyers. This forced Snow to return to his original choice for the crease and sign Evgeni Nabokov to another one-year deal at $3.25 million.
At most, the 2013 NHL season has two games remaining. The Chicago Blackhawks have the opportunity to send the Boston Bruins home without any new hardware, as a win tonight would make them this year's Stanley Cup Champions.
With that being said, the New York Islanders organization has been preparing for the NHL Entry draft, as well as free agency.
As we jump ahead to July 5th, there are a handful of players that the Islanders might consider for the 2013-2014 roster that may make them a better contending team for next season's playoff run.
Most NHL fans have been focusing their attention on the NHL playoffs. Both the Kings/Blackhawks and the Penguins/Bruins are in the midst of their Conference Finals match-ups, but rumors and news have continued to run wild surrounding the New York Islanders.
The biggest, and most latest story coming about the Islanders is that number one defenseman and team captain Mark Streit will not be returning next year (Photo Credit: Robert Kowal/Flickr).
The New York Islanders season-ending five game road trip continued last night in Raleigh as the team fell to the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3 in the shootout.
The importance of the loss being in the shootout was that, in conjunction with the Winnipeg Jets regulation loss, the Isles earned their first playoff appearance since 2007. Had the Islanders lost in regulation, there would have been no clinch.
When the horn sounded at the end of the third period at the Nassau Coliseum on Tuesday night, Islanders fans rejoiced as their home squad defeated the visiting Florida Panthers 5-2. The Isles skaters removed their jerseys and signed them for the lucky fans who won them as a prize at the end of the game.
Typically, this is a moment at the end of the Islanders season filled with "better luck next year's" and "thanks for supporting us as we rebuild our team." But instead, this time, fans were salivating for more as the Islanders continued to tighten their grasp on their first playoff berth in six years.
"Everyone's been telling me how loud this arena can be," said Matt Martin...
The victory, Pittsburgh's 15th straight, was also a record night in another way: the Pens have extended their club record shutout streak. The Pens shutout streak now extends over 208 minutes as Pittsburgh has won the last three by shutout.
Pens netminder Tomas Vokoun has extended his personal best shutout streak to just shy of 163 minutes.
As the Islanders took to the ice in Montreal, they tried to erase their losing ways of the past few weeks. Aside from two wins against the Rangers and Devils, the Isles have come up empty in every game as of late. Isles are 2-7-0 over their last 9 games before they took the ice against the streaking Habs.
Perhaps the Isles hit rock bottom during what we will refer to as an assassination of dignity and credibility. After falling flat in a lopsided 7-0 loss to the Flyers, they were attempting to get back to winning ways in Ottawa.
Unfortunately, the Isles were unable to get back in the win column falling 3-1. They were very much in the game but poor goaltending and key mistakes by DiPietro was their demise.
In danger of yet another significant losing streak, the Isles didn't start well against the Habs on the road.
Keeping up with a disturbing trend as of late, they continued to give up early goals. They were down 1-0 before they could even get their muscles loose.
The Islanders are just slightly past the quarter mark of the season after playing their 13th game of the year last night against the New York Rangers. They skated to a 4-3 shootout victory to give them a 5-7-1 record.
With 11 points, the Islanders sit 12th in the Eastern Conference; four points out of the eighth placed Rangers and last in the Atlantic Division (Photo Credit: theseoduke/Flickr).
Five of the Islanders top-six forwards have been producing from the start of the year. John Tavares has 16 points in 13 games, trailed by Matt Moulson with 13 and Brad Boyes with 10. Frans Nielsen has quietly put up nine points in the games that have been played, while Michael Grabner has seven.
The old saying goes as follows: "defense wins championships." The New York Islanders have learned in recent years that they have not had enough defense. No Islanders team has averaged less than three goals against per game since the 2007-2008 season, and if that team had allowed three more goals, it would have been exactly three goals against per game.