The Islanders are red hot and show no signs of cooling down despite dealing away their top defenseman in terms of ice time, as well as their No. 1 goalie this season.
After dispatching the Calgary Flames, winners of four straight themselves, the Islanders are now 7-1-1 since Dec. 16 and have jumped 15 points in the standings. Had they not needed to dig themselves out of a bottomless pit after a disastrous November, we could actually be using the term “playoffs” in conversations about the Islanders right now, but instead they remain 15 points back of Montreal and the No. 8 seed in the East.
But the Islanders story isn’t about the playoffs right now so much as positioning themselves for seasons to come. To that end, the play of goalie Nathan Lawson in relief of an injured Rick DiPietro (time of absence TBD) has to be encouraging, as must be the play of young Calvin de Haan on the Canadian junior team that smacked around the U.S. squad Monday night.
But the centerpiece of any Islander future is John Tavares, who has torched opponents during this recent run to the tune of 13 points in the nine games. That’s the kind of pace most believed him to be capable of when the Isles picked him at the top of the 2009 draft.
The Islanders will try and continue their success Thursday in Edmonton, before swinging into Colorado and finally Chicago before returning home to Long Island Jan. 11.