Last season, the New York Islanders took a big step.
Hart Trophy finalist John Tavares established himself among the elite, and young supporting cast players like Kyle Okposo, Matt Martin, Josh Bailey, Frans Nielsen, Travis Hamonic and Andrew MacDonald all progressed in a positive direction.
Against all odds, the Isles came very close to pushing the series to a Game 7.
In preparation for the 2013-14 season, let's take a look at 12 moments that are sure to get Islanders fans' blood pumping as October draws closer.
Have a favorite moment that didn't make the cut? Share it with us in the comments section below.
Michael Grabner may be the fastest player in the NHL.
It seems like nearly every time he laces up the skates, he's a threat to find some space and head off to the races on a breakaway.
Here, he takes the home run pass from Mark Streit and gets the Islanders off to a great start.
The Islanders had an up-and-down start to the year, but this was a statement game.
John Tavares scored this goal on a nifty passing play in the second period to give the Isles a commanding 3-0 lead. We'd see plenty of Matt Moulson and Tavares all season, with both enjoying very successful years.
Along with Moulson and JT, Evgeni Nabokov registered 38 saves and Casey Cizikas scored his first goal in NHL action.
The first of five games against the Penguins in the regular season, it was the only one they'd go on to win.
The Islanders had a miserable start to February, going winless in their first five games.
They finally recorded a victory two nights before this game, in a 4-3 shootout win over the New York Rangers.
Putting together another strong effort was important, and Tavares came up big, scoring his only hat trick of the season and pitching in an assist as well.
It was the fourth hat trick of Tavares' career.
At 6'3", 220 pounds, Matt Martin has become a critical physical presence for the Islanders.
There may not be a better example than in this series of events.
Matt Martin first puts New Jersey Devils winger Stephen Gionta on his back, and when Tom Kostopoulos challenges him to a fight, he makes him look like an amateur.
You also get an idea of what kind of character Martin brings to the sport every night, as he realizes Kostopoulos is shook up, opts not to throw another punch and calls for the Devils training staff.
Frans Nielsen and Josh Bailey are some of the more unheralded third-line players in the NHL.
This play showcases both players' offensive talents. Nielsen executed an excellent backhanded pass, and Bailey made it count.
The Islanders went on to beat the Washington Capitals in this one, 5-2.
Bailey and Nielsen must continue to provide secondary scoring with plays like this for the Isles if they hope to return to the playoffs in 2013-14.
Nielsen forced overtime with a nice wrister in this Feb. 21 game against the Montreal Canadiens, and in overtime, rookie Thomas Hickey was there to clean up after a tremendous pair of passes from Tavares and Grabner.
The goal was the first of Hickey's career, and it helped the Islanders rebound from a pair of disappointing losses that included a 7-0 drubbing at the hands of the Philadelphia Flyers.
Heavyweight fights are becoming a thing of the past, but don't tell these two.
Colton Orr and Eric Boulton squared off in a game with huge playoff implications April 18. It proved to be one of the better fights of the season.
Haymaker after haymaker, Boulton stuck it to one of the best fighters in the game.
The viewers at hockeyfights.com gave Boulton the win with a little over 47 percent of the vote.
The Islanders went on to win the game, 5-3.
Lubomir Visnovsky could have an explosive year for the Islanders next year.
He's one of the more underrated power-play quarterbacks in the league, and in a full year with the Isles, he could tally a ton of points with Tavares and Moulson playing with him on the first unit.
Here, he sneaks down low and scores off of an excellent passing play, one that we've seen from Moulson before.
Notre Dame alumni Anders Lee didn't waste any time creating a stat line for himself.
In his first shot attempt of his NHL career, he seemed to surprise Winnipeg Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec and put the Islanders ahead early in a key game.
At the time, the Jets and Isles were both pursuing the last few playoff spots in the East. New York went on to win, 5-2, and jumped into eighth place as a result.
Tavares was 3-of-6 in the shootout last season, but this is arguably his most impressive goal of the bunch.
The goal not only helped snap a three-game winless streak but was the catalyst to the Isles getting a four-game winning streak going, letting the NHL world know that they'd be around as the playoff race got tighter.
Okposo's season as a whole was streaky at best.
However, down the stretch and in the playoffs, Okposo was a man possessed.
He scored eight assists in the final 10 games of the regular season and didn't skip a beat in the six-game series against the Penguins, scoring three goals and one assist.
What might be viewed as his biggest moment was the fight he had against Matt Niskanen in Game 2.
Okposo left the Penguins defenseman bloodied, and the Isles went on to score two goals to tie things up before the period was over.
Prior to the fight, the Islanders were being outscored 8-1 in the series. By the end of the night, the Islanders had the series notched at one game apiece, after Okposo scored the game-winning goal in the third.
Like many of the Islanders, the first-round series against the Penguins was the first playoff action in Tavares' career.
He had a superb series, scoring three goals and two assists, including this game-winner to even the series at two games apiece.
There's no doubt JT will return to the playoffs sooner than later if he can replicate performances like this.