When you are searching for optimism about your hockey team, it’s good to occasionally find it from someone outside the organization and fanbase.
On NHL Tonight, host Jackie Redmond asked analyst and former NHL player Mike Johnson which Eastern Conference team that missed the playoffs last year will be back in the post-season.
Johnson says it’s the New York Islanders.
He says it for all the logical reasons. The same ones we recite in our head when we’re having trouble falling to sleep at night. The 13-game road trip, the injuries, the multiple pauses, the below-average shooting percentages.
All of that contributed to the Islanders digging a hole far too deep for them to climb out of a season ago. They played at a playoff level in the second half and finished over .500 with 84 points, but that was still 16 points behind the Washington Capitals for the final playoff spot at the conference.
“The team in place is good enough to be better than they were last year just without anything else happening except normal things.”
– Mike Johnson
Johnson emphasizes that the Islanders are a team that was in the final four of the Stanley Cup Playoffs the previous two seasons and have improved the roster with the addition of Alexander Romanov on the back-end. Redmond and Johnson also spoke about Ilya Sorokin’s emergence with Johnson stating he could be a Top 5 goaltender in the NHL this season.
The margin of error is small, but even if there are no further impact moves, the Islanders possess a roster that has enough talent to return to the Eastern Conference playoffs. They’re still built for the post-season, the hardest part will be getting there.