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The Islanders’ Defensive Core

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Photo Courtesy of PITTSBURGH-POST-GAZETTE

People continue to say, “there are no good New York sports teams.” Well, I am here to tell you are wrong. One team continues to succeed and grow as a team. That is the New York Islanders! They are the forgotten team, but they had come alive this past season. The team has sparked a new fire inside the hearts of all the players. However, the greatest reason for the group’s continued success is the talented, stonewall defensive core.

Throughout the last season, the New York Islanders have shown significant growth in the offseason as well. After losing Vezina trophy finalist Robin Lehner (goaltender), as well as veteran forward Valteri Filppula, the Islanders and general manager Lou Lamoriello had to work extra hard in the summer to replace these top-notch talents. The team staff worked on signing forward Derick Brassard, and goalie Semyon Varlamov. So far the team has been playing stellar with a hint of inconsistency here and there. One of the biggest re-quoted sayings in sports is “offense wins games and defense wins championships.” And, the Islanders use this quote as a guide for all their games as they are an incredibly defensively-minded squad of players. While utilizing a game strategy known as the “trap” the Islanders lock up the neutral zone of play (center ice) and keep the opposing side out of the goal-scoring prone “point” and the high slot in the offensive zone (also known as the blue line on the ice).

The team overall continues to play games and continues to succeed. Ever since moving back to the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, New York, the team has never shied away when looking an opportunity in the eye. Major players on the Islanders are also beginning to come forward, defensemen such as Adam Pelech, Ryan Pulock, Scott Mayfield, and Devon Toews continue to impress at young ages and grow their hockey senses and skills. Also, more veteran defensemen, for example, Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk continue to mesh stunningly into the defensive game plan. I find that as the group of players continue to find more chemistry, their point totals will continue to skyrocket. Moreover, the Islanders are known by the way they play in general, in the sense that they are a two-way hockey team that plays something called a “trap.” This means that the team maintains a three-man defense on one-man offense when entering the defensive zone. This limits opposing goal scoring opportunities, as well as forces turnovers in the neutral zone. Overall, the Islanders continue to impress and show signs of a playoff-caliber team, and if they can continue this hot streak to the playoffs, it will 100% be riding on the defensive core to get the job done.