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|HPT Bold Prediction #21: Playoffs on the Island|
|Written by Blake Benzel|
|Sunday, 07 August 2011 00:21|
With a promising young core, a talented group of veterans and a goalie who can hold it all together, the Islanders suddenly have the look of a playoff team.
One of the best parts about being an NHL fan is its surprise success stories.
A few years back, there were the St. Louis Blues and Columbus Blue Jackets. Two seasons ago, it was the Phoenix Coyotes.
This season, the surprise playoff team will be the New York Islanders.
The Isles have a tremendous young core of players in John Tavares, Josh Bailey and Kyle Okposo, a great leader who is now healthy in Mark Streit, and they’ve just acquired a player who can help Streit quarterback their power play in Brian Rolston.
In short, this team has all the tools to be very successful, beginning with the right combination of young talent and veteran leadership.
After his slow start, Tavares ended up improving upon his 2009-10 rookie season despite playing fewer games and scoring fewer power-play goals. This season, the expectations for Tavares should be even higher. Okposo is healthy and will be playing alongside Tavares for a full season, which will give the latter even more scoring opportunities.
The defense only improves with the return of Streit, and youngsters like Travis Hamonic and Calvin de Haan will benefit from Streit's presence on the blue line. It’s hard to quantify just how much Streit means to this team after missing an entire season, but there’s no doubt that he can help both the power play and their poise.
Last but not least is Al Montoya, who got a long-awaited opportunity in goal last season and shined down the stretch with a .921 save percentage and a 2.39 goals-against average. He’ll get his opportunity to prove his mettle in over a full season and, if his history is any indication, he won’t disappoint.
They may not have a new buliding anytime soon, but at least the Islanders won't have another long off-season to lick their wounds.
|Last Updated on Monday, 08 August 2011 15:31|