TAMPA, FL – NOVEMBER 18: New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) skates in the 1st period of the NHL game between the New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning on November 18, 2017 at Amalie Arena in Tampa, FL. (Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The New York Islanders continue to be hot at Barclays Center. The team has 14 points in 8 games at home this season. Their record 6-0-2 is and their point total is second in their history, behind only the 1978-79 Islanders. With the recent win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, coach Doug Weight became the first coach in Islanders history with 35 wins in 59 games.

One key to their success has been their home record. The Islanders, despite ongoing arena woes, are nearly unstoppable at home. The Islanders have three forwards in the top 20 in points, John Tavares (22 points), Josh Bailey (23) and Anders Lee (21). Anders Lee is tied for 7th in the NHL with 11. Captain John Tavares is second in the league with 14 goals, including this one.

Lucky Number 3

The Islanders are 11-2-0 when they score at least three goals. This includes shootout winners. They are 0-4-2 when they do not. With the run and gun style of offense that the Islanders play, they live and die by scoring enough to offset the goals against average. This highlights the need for a tighter defensive unit. Though it is working for the team thus far it remains to be seen if they can sustain it for the season.

Second Line Symbiosis

A struggle for the Islanders during the Tavares years has been a second line that is able to score goals. The trade for Jordan Eberle and the call-up of Mathew Barzal continues to pay dividends for the Islanders. Barzal was an NHLPA Second Star of the week when he racked up 5 assists in a single game and bookended that with assists in the games before and after. His ability to split defenses, dangle to the point of embarrassing opponents and sheer speed has been a boon to the Islanders second line. The Eberle-Barzal tandem stretches defenses and creates goal-scoring opportunities that have not been seen a long while. Look for them to continue to produce throughout the season and into the playoffs.

Shoring Up The Defense

The Islanders currently sit at third in the NHL with 73 goals. This is a remarkable feat for a team under a first-year coach. However, there is a chink in the armor of the Islanders. The offensive focus of the team leaves the back door open. The Islanders are currently 23rd of 31 teams in goals against with 66. Additionally, the netminders have bailed the team out of poor defensive showings several times throughout this season. If the Islanders are to make a playoff push they need to shore up their defensive play. With the goals for and against roughly even, the team runs the risk of missing the playoffs. More than any other team the Islanders know how slim that margin is, especially in the Metropolitan division.

Quick Off The Draw

The Islanders always look to score first. This strategy is working for them as they are 7-0-0 when they score the first goal. The team has consistently been offense-minded regardless of who sits on the bench. For the Islanders to continue to succeed they have to improve their record when the opposing team scores first. In those games, the Islanders are 4-6-2. This means continuing to build on their offensive strengths and develop a better overall defensive strategy.

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