The words in the headline couldn't be spoken seriously a few years ago. Years of losing, injuries and low attendance seemed to be with this team forever.
But, the future on Long Island is bright.
The Islanders finally have the pieces in place to become a winning team. Players like John Tavares, Kyle Okposo, Michael Grabner, Josh Bailey and Blake Comeau have been developing well. While these young players are here, veteran leadership is also present from guys like Radek Martinek, Mark Streit and new assistant coach and former Islander Doug Weight.
The Islanders ran into injury trouble early last season with Okposo and Streit going down with injuries. This made it all but impossible for the Isles to make the playoffs. The Isles had 13 different defensemen last year, making it almost impossible for players to come together.
The Islanders got off to a slow start. From the end of October to the end of November, the Isles lost 14 straight games. That could've, and probably did, decide their fate. If the Islanders won seven of those games, they would have 87 points and would have contended for a playoff spot.
The second half of the year was like a completely different season.
The Islanders were easily one of the best teams in the league from the All-Star break to the end of the year. They were playing much better and showing more fight. They played with a lot of pride and passion. It should be interesting to see if they can continue that this year.
There is no doubt that the Islanders have improved. The young core is improving and players are starting to step up. This team is playoff bound. My prediction may be bold, but it is what I believe. The New York Islanders will make the Stanley Cup playoffs in the 2011-12 season . Also, they won't be a push over in the playoffs either. They will continue to fight to the top of the NHL's best. It's only a matter of time before the Islanders will be contenders again.