https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BXPHeKVSL48We are officially less than one week away from the start of New York Islanders Hockey, and it seems as if everyone is very excited to get things going. So far in the preseason, the Isles have looked very good. They have put up an impressive 5-0-2 record through the first 7 games, with just one remaining before the real deal begins. Rookies Mathew Barzal and Joshua Ho-Sang have looked promising, while Goaltenders Jaroslav Halak and Thomas Greiss have been more than solid. So with all of these things going into the 2017-18 season, we are going to look at the top 5 questions facing the Isles heading into the season.
Sure doesn't seem like the #Isles will be dull this season, does it?
— Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) September 30, 2017
1. Who will be the #1 goalie? (If there is one…)
The Islanders certainly have had their fair share of Goaltender drama over the years, whether it be Rick Dipietro and his constant injuries, or the dreaded three-goalie system from last season, we’ve seen it all. But this season brings something a little bit different. The Islanders have two solid goaltenders, both capable of being the number one net minder. During the preseason, the two have looked very good. Halak has had more time than Greiss, but they both were nothing short of sensational. So with that being said, who starts? In my opinion, I think the Isles will simply go with who’s hot. They open up the season with back-to-back games, so we’ll likely see them split those games, and then after that… it’s up in the air. Both are solid options and hopefully goaltending will not be an issue this year.
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) September 23, 2017
2. How will the team handle the JT contract situation?
We all know that the Islanders need to take care of john Tavares’ contract, as he is entering th final year of his deal. Isles fans are praying that he never makes it to free agency, and so are the players. But with that being said, there have been numerous occasions that Tavares, the coaches, and the players have spoken out on why they think JT is gonna stay, and how it won’t be a distraction for anyone on the team as the season moves along. I think if there is one person in this league who will be able to take the attention off of himself, it is John Tavares, and ultimately that is what will happen. If the Islanders have a lousy season, it will certainly not be because of the “distraction” from JT.
— Newsday Sports (@NewsdaySports) September 14, 2017
3. Will rookies Joshua Ho-Sang and Mathew Barzal step up?
Throughout the preseason, we have seen constant play from Mathew Barzal and Joshua Ho-Sang that gets Isles fans very excited. The two have been talked about within the organization for years and it’s finally the time to see what they’re made of. But will they be able to provide vital secondary scoring for the Islanders? I believe they will. Mathew Barzal has looked absolutely incredible so far in the preseason, as Ho-Sang has created plays but not gotten much credit, putting up 2 assists, while Barzal has 3 goals and 3 assists. We will almost certainly see them both on the opening night roster, and hopefully they will provide speed and secondary scoring for this Isles team.
Media: "Does Barzal make the team based on what you've seen so far?"
Dougie: "Yes." pic.twitter.com/ynRtMdas2h
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) September 26, 2017
4. How will players respond under Doug Weight?
After Jack Capuano was fired in the middle of last season, the Islanders completely turned around their season, and ultimately finished one point out of the playoffs, in a season that looked like it had no hope. While coming so close may have made it hurt even more for the fans, it did give us something to be excited about. New Head Coach Doug Weight completely turned around the season and every player on the team had nothing but nice things to say about him. Now, entering his first full season, he seems to have the respect of every player in the dressing room, and should help the Isles get off to the good start they are hoping for.
5. Will Jordan Eberle live up to the hype?
The Islanders added a really good winger this offseason, Jordan Eberle, and hope to see him strive on the same line as John Tavares. The two played together at the 2009 world juniors and put up great numbers together, so everyone would love to see them do the same in orange and blue. The Islanders have needed a good winger to play with JT for a while, and it seems as if they have finally found one. Now, let’s just hope they can produce! The Islanders gave up Ryan Strome in order to acquire Jordan, and while Ryan was talked about for a while, he never really lived up to his expectations. A first line of Anders Lee, John Tavares, and Jordan Eberle simply sounds excellent, and at the end of the day, will certainly be the focal point of the Islanders offense.