A Look at The Islanders at the Halfway Point of the Season

January 15, 2024
Posted in News
January 15, 2024 Ava Salti

Through 42 games, the New York Islanders are 19-13-10. That’s good for 48 points and 4th place in the Metropolitan Division. A 96-point pace is good, but not great. I think if you were to ask the Islanders and the majority of their fans what they think about the team’s first half, it would be that same sentiment: good, but not great.

They have been good, especially in areas where they have usually struggled mightily – power plays, first line scoring, and offensive consistency. Their offense has actually looked dangerous, being carried by Mat Barzal, Bo Horvat and Noah Dobson. Our own Stefen Rosner found this gem of a stat: the Isles are one of six teams in the NHL to have 3 or more players averaging a point per game or better through the first half of the season. 

Barzal has 45 points in 42 games, earning himself a 2nd career All-Star selection. Dobson has 43 points in 42 games while averaging 25 minutes a night, finding himself in Norris conversations for the first time in his young career. Horvat has 40 points in 41 games, bringing the offense that this organization has been desperately needing. Brock Nelson has been Brock Nelson, quietly leading the team with 19 goals. His linemates, Pierre Engvall and Kyle Palmieri while going through rough stretches at times, have continued their chemistry from last season. They’ve been broken up due to the injury to Casey Cizikas, so their eventual reunion should provide quite the spark.  

The Islanders power play currently sits 9th in the league at 24.6%. Last year, it was 29th at 15.8%. It has kept the Islanders in games, gotten them back in games, and even won them games, something that was missing all of last year. Despite the improvements on the offensive side of the puck, the defense has been a disaster.

Last year, with a new leader in Lane Lambert, the Islanders were not the same defensive stalworth that they were under Barry Trotz. That was to be expected, though, with a new coaching style, new philosophy and new system. I don’t think many expected Lambert, who spent so many years under Trotz’s wing, to have such a surprisingly different hold over the Islanders. The defensive miscues have only been magnified this season, summed up by Saturday night in Nashville. 

With around 12 seconds to go in a 1-1 game, Matt Martin got to the puck along the nearside boards in the defensive zone. With no Predator defenseman holding the blue line, skating or chipping the puck out of the zone to get the game to overtime was the right play. Instead, Martin tried to thread the needle on a pass towards the middle. It got stolen, and with 8 seconds left, was laid on a platter for Alexandre Carrier to hammer home. It’s the same kind of mental mistake that has plagued the Islanders all season long. It’s the same mistake that we never saw happen under Barry Trotz, so it was all too fitting that it unfolded the way it did in Nashville – Trotz’s new home.

“Somehow they’ve stayed in the fight. Now, they just need to learn from it.”

Even after heartbreaking losses and games where it seems to all be heading downhill, this Islanders team has fought back. After losing in New Jersey earlier this season in similar fashion (with around 20 seconds left), the Islanders went into Carolina and won a thriller in overtime. Somehow they’ve stayed in the fight. Now, they just need to learn from it. 

At 48 points, the Islanders are on pace to finish with 96 points. Historically, that’s been right around the mark to get into the playoffs. With the Flyers and Capitals sticking around, there’s no playoff guarantee for this Islanders team. They have to find their game in the defensive zone, limit the mental mistakes and improve the penalty kill. If it happens, they’ll certainly go from just good to great. 

Looking forward to an exciting second half. We’ll always have you covered here at HNiNY, so make sure to subscribe on Twitch, Youtube, and your preferred podcast providers so you don’t miss a show. Make sure to follow @hockeynightny on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok for even more Islanders content. HNiNY has weekly episodes every Sunday at 8pm.

Catch the latest episode of HNiNY

(Photo of Barzal, Horvat, Dobson and Nelson: Matt Kartozian / USA TODAY Sports)


Catch Hockey Night in New York with hosts Sean Cuthbert and Stefen Rosner live from Floored Media in Rockville Centre Sunday nights at 8PM ET throughout the season.