It is very early in the NHL season, but the New York Islanders look like a much different team than years past. Last night's 6-3 victory for the Islanders showed off their speed and ability to capitalize on an opposing team's mistake. To be quite frank, although the Rangers outshot the Islanders, the Islanders seemed a step faster than the Blueshirts. On the rush, the Islander defenseman were quick enough to force the Ranger's wingers to the side, while the Islander forwards were able to skate right past some of the marquis Ranger defensemen. Ryan Mcdonagh and Marc Staal could not hang with the likes of John Tavares last night.
One thing is clear, whether or not the Islanders keep up there hot undefeated start or not, they are much more competitive. Recently added goaltender Jaroslav Halak gives the Islanders the ability to hang in games, unlike last year's goalie, Evegeni Nabakov. Another difference in this year's Islanders team is their ability to block shots. They beat the Rangers at their own game, out blocking them by a mark of 20-9. The Islanders were able to silence the Madison Square Garden crowd with their tough play.
The majority of the Islander goals were from the slot, and came off turnovers. Center John Tavares' tying goal late in the second period off of a Ranger miscue was the turning point in the game. The Islanders utilized the slot immensely last night, as RW Kyle Okposo tallied 5 shots, keeping the pressure on recently embattled Rangers goaltender, Henrik Lundqvist. The Islanders may not have outshot the Rangers quantitatively, but they had many more quality shots than the Rangers and make the king feel uncomfortable all night.
No matter what transpires with this year's Islanders team, speed kills, and they have a lot of it. The Islanders are going to find themselves in a lot of games if they are able to blow by defensemen the way they did last night against Ranger's Captain, Ryan Mcdonagh. Nobody should be sleeping on the Islanders this year, they are a scrappy bunch and are not an automatic win on the schedule anymore.