A famous philosophical thought experiment once asked the question, “If a tree falls in a forest, and nobody is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” The same observation can qualify when discussing the 2019-20 New York Islanders season.
The recent events for fans in New York have not been happy, They watched the Yankees fall to the Astros in the ALCS, the Giants and Jets implode and the Rangers and Devils stub struggle early. Meanwhile, the Islanders are the tree that fell in the forest.
On Sunday, the Islanders defeated the Philadelphia Flyers for their seventh straight victory. The previous time they accomplished that was December 31, 1989-January 19, 1990, when they won 9 consecutive games.
Long Island’s hockey team raised expectations this season after collecting 103 points last season. The defensive system employed by head coach Barry Trotz continues to pay dividends.
How the Islanders win exemplifies the team. No one ranks in the top 50 among individual scorers. Only Brock Nelson (10) has reached double figures in points. Mathew Barzal ranks tied for 29th with five goals scored.
Winning pretty doesn’t matter, results matter. The Islanders’ four lines all swarm the ice like one. Each line relentlessly makes their opponent submit to constant pressure. Fourteen different players have scored a goal. In a win against Winnipeg, ten players registered a point.
In goal, newcomer Semyon Varlamov has made fans forget about the departed Robin Lehner, winning his last four starts while registering a .935 save percentage. Tomas Griess continues to show the vast improvement he showed last season, allowing two goals or fewer in four of his five starts.
On defense, Nick Leddy deposited the first penalty shot for a defenseman in team history against the Senators. Leddy is one of three defensemen (Johnny Boychuk, Devon Toews) with five points. Adam Pelech (32) and Ryan Pulock (26) rank in the top 12 for a unit that leads the NHL in blocked shots.
The Islanders get to enjoy a few days off before resuming their season Friday at the Nassau Coliseum against the defending President Trophy Winners, Tampa Bay Lightning. Perhaps fans in the area will finally hear that tree fall if they continue to win quietly.