On Jan. 19, 2009, the Islanders had just lost in OT at home to the Capitals, 2-1, giving them their 29th point of the season after 46 games (12-29-5). That put them in dead last, 8 points behind Ottawa and Atlanta, 11 points behind Tampa Bay. Today, in the compressed schedule before the 2010 Olympic break, they have played 46 games and kept the pace of NHL-style quasi-.500 (19-19-8). They're in 10th place, two points out of the playoff seed.
Um, what a difference a year makes?
WebBard pointed out that with the shootout "win" in Phoenix, the Islanders have now equaled the number of [edit: ROAD wins. Sorry for the typo earlier.] road wins (nine) they amassed all of last season. Several of you have mentioned that the balance of scoring isn't all that different than last year. Many know the goaltending has been superb (well, this guy's has in particular) and the blueline -- flawed as it is -- has been far less injury-ravaged. Instead of Thomas Pock as our go-to fill in, we've had the refreshing Andrew MacDonald.
Here's a quick glance at last year at this stage, compared to this year:
After the 46th game of 2008-09, with Joey MacDonald on IR:
Record: 12-29-5, 15th/30th
Leading Scorers: Bill Guerin, 14 goals; Mark Streit, 26 assists, 34 points; Tim Jackman, 76 PIM
Goalies of record: Yann Danis (0-5-1, 3.53 GAA, .887 SV%); Peter Mannino (0-0-0, 13.81, .625);
Power play: 17.3%; Penalty kill: 81.4%
Record: 19-19-8, 10th/21st
Leading Scorers: John Tavares/Matt Moulson, 16 goals; Kyle Okposo, 21 assists, 30 points; Jackman, 72 PIM
Goalies of Record: Dwayne Roloson (17-7-6, 2.79 GAA, .911 SV%); Martin Biron (2-11-3, 3.22, .900); Rick DiPietro (0-1-0, 4.07, .857)
Power play: 16.0%; Penalty kill: 75.74%
Fun stuff. Any surprises? How much is just "goaltending, period"? For the first half of the season, I've told people "goaltending plus John Tavares," but JT has been quiet lately, while the other youngsters have picked up the slack.
Meanwhile, for dicussion's sake, don't forget SBN sites have reader contributions via FanPosts and FanShots. In the last day, Fitz has added his version of "enough is enough" regarding making other teams pay for cheapshots against Tavares. BC has added his "state of the Isles" reflection about the choices facing Garth Snow, as well as a priceless quote from a Calgary Flames defenseman complaining about another team's player running around hitting people but not fighting. Pot, meet kettle.
And if you've got a theory/essay (FanPosts) or a link/photo/video (FanShot) to share, have at it.