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Islanders are the sleeper team of the Eastern Conference

Kevin Allen of USA Today predicts the Isles will be playoff-bound

Monday, 08.08.2011 / 11:24 AM / News
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Islanders are the sleeper team of the Eastern Conference
By Kevin Allen, USA Today

The New York Islanders have a better chance of ending their playoff drought than they have had the past few years. Even though I have reservations about their defense, they are my sleeper pick in the Eastern Conference.

Why the 14th-place Islanders, who have missed the playoffs the past four seasons, have a reasonable chance to be six places better this season:

1. Evgeni Nabokov is going to join the team, meaning the Islanders either have a new No. 1 goalie or an attractive backup to the injury-plagued Rick DiPietro.

2. Offensive-minded defenseman Mark Streit will return from the shoulder surgery that cost him the entire 2010-11 season. He will help the team's transition game and power play.

3. In John Tavares, Michael Grabner, Matt Moulson, Blake Comeau, Kyle Okposo, Brian Rolston and PA Parenteau, the Islanders have interesting/noteworthy/desirable scorer options for their top six forward positions.

4. Tavares will be 21 when the season starts, and it's not unthinkable that he could go from 67 to 90 points. Would anyone be stunned if he netted 40 goals?

5. With seven short-handed goals, Frans Nielsen has proved to be an effective penalty killer and role player. He had 13 goals and 31 assists last season and deserved, and received, votes for the Selke Trophy.

6. The Islanders have quality rookies, particularly Nino Niederreiter and perhaps Calvin de Haan, who could make some contributions this season.

7. Defenseman Travis Hamonic, 21, played more than 21 minutes a game last season as a rookie and presumably will be even more effective this season.

8. In the offseason, the Islanders added one of the NHL's better role players in Marty Reasoner, who is a good face-off guy and owns a knack for making big plays at the right time. Of his 14 goals last season, four were game-winners.

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SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 MTL 64 41 18 5 172 142 87
2 NYI 66 42 21 3 211 185 87
3 TBL 66 40 20 6 217 173 86
4 NYR 63 39 17 7 197 155 85
5 DET 62 36 15 11 182 160 83
6 PIT 63 36 18 9 182 158 81
7 WSH 66 35 21 10 194 164 80
8 BOS 63 31 22 10 168 165 72
9 FLA 65 28 23 14 159 185 70
10 PHI 65 28 25 12 173 187 68
11 OTT 62 28 23 11 176 167 67
12 NJD 64 27 27 10 144 165 64
13 TOR 65 26 34 5 175 199 57
14 CBJ 63 26 33 4 163 201 56
15 CAR 62 24 31 7 144 167 55
16 BUF 64 19 40 5 123 215 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Tavares 66 31 36 5 67
K. Okposo 46 14 30 -2 44
R. Strome 66 14 28 22 42
B. Nelson 66 18 20 8 38
F. Nielsen 66 11 26 13 37
A. Lee 60 22 13 14 35
J. Bailey 54 13 20 13 33
J. Boychuk 56 7 25 15 32
N. Leddy 66 9 19 17 28
T. Hamonic 56 4 21 16 25
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 34 13 1 .911 2.48
C. Johnson 8 8 1 .889 3.08

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