By Greg Youssef,
Sports Business Writer
It has been quite a season for New York hockey teams so far, with the Devils and Islanders exceeding expectations and the Rangers underperforming. Here’s how October has been treating your NY hockey team:
It is a good time to be a Devils fan right now, with the team exceeding expectations in a strong 8-2-0 October campaign in which they now sit atop the Metropolitan Division, playing exciting hockey and emerging as a real threat to the rest of the NHL. The team made a statement in their first game as they put their speed on display, dismantling a hapless Avalanche team 4-1. The wins kept coming, with the Devils silencing doubters by winning their third game in a row 6-3 in a tough matchup with the Toronto Maple Leafs, showing that they can play at a high level. Ultimately, Devils fans have very little to complain about right now with the team performing at a high level and defeating their rivals, the Rangers.
Conversely, Rangers fans have much less to celebrate about, as their team is not performing well enough to compete with the rest of the division, placing second to last in front of only the Hurricanes after a 5-7 October campaign. Defenseman Brendan Smith was a healthy scratch for the first two games as the team was without his leadership, and when he returned, the team did not gel around him. An uncertainty surrounds the rebuilt team. “I’ve never been part of a team where we struggled this much at the start.
It’s different than having a tough time in the middle of the year because you don’t have your foundation,” Smith said. The Rangers have made the playoffs seven straight years, and this may very well be the end of the streak.
The Islanders have had a solid season so far at 7-4-1 with John Tavares providing his leading role, emerging a hero in a 2-goal performance against Las Vegas, scoring twice and securing a 6-3 win. Tavares is second in the league, scoring 11 goals in 12 games including eight in his last four. His aggression and high level of play has the Islanders’ offense performing at a high level as they have now scored at least three goals in six straight games, forging an identity as a threat to the rest of the league. The team appears to be shaking off the air of their slow start, with Doug Weight seeing not only his top players but some of the supporting cast operating at a higher level. While Tavares has been the top scorer, Josh Bailey, Casey Cizikas, and Cal Clutterbuck have also made their presences felt in different ways for the Islanders.
While Ranger fans may be panicking, the season is ultimately still young. There is plenty of time to turn it around, but they need to start meshing sooner than later. As for the Islanders and Devils, their strong start can be wiped away just as quickly as it came. It should be another fun season in the NHL.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, November 7th print edition.
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