Isles Coming Around
by: Patrick Hickey, Jr. | Senior Writer - NY Sports Day | Saturday, November 10, 2007

Expected to finish at the bottom of the Atlantic Division this season, the New York Islanders have surprised their competition by playing hard-working and team-oriented hockey. Going 8-4 through their first 12 games, the Isles, as of press time, sit in third pace in the division with 16-points, behind the revamped Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers.

How they have managed to succeed this season, without having a superstar scorer or legitimate number one defenseman has baffled the league. However, in doing so, the Isles have shown that character and plenty of depth can produce a quality that that plays hard every night.

Through the first ten games, the team relied on new arrivals like Mike Comrie, Bill Guerin Josef Vasicek and Ruslan Fedotenko to provide scoring. Through the last two games however, veterans Trent Hunter and Miroslav Satan have gotten hot, giving the team the extra jump that they need in order to win and has taken the pressure of the new arrivals.

Both getting off to slow starts, both Hunter and Satan have played their best hockey over the past two games, scoring a five combined goals and helping the team finish off two good teams in the Penguins and the Rangers. In order to continue to stay in the thick of the division, the Islanders will have to continue to get solid performances from players like Hunter and Satan.

For Satan, who is coming off of a disappointing 27-goal season, after scoring 35 in his first season with the team, there’s no time like the present. With the team taking his lead, the Isles have looked like they’ve shaken off the mediocre games they played against Toronto and Carolina last week.

“We’re a resilient little bunch,” said DiPietro.

Also helping matters for the Islanders is the play of Islanders goaltender Rick DiPietro. Currently second in the league with seven wins and has a goals against average of 2.56, despite giving up six goals in a period and a half against Carolina last week, DiPietro continues to prove he was worth every penny of the monumental 15-year contract he signed a year ago.

With the reinvigorated play of Hunter and Satan, along with the consistent play of DiPietro and the new arrivals, the Islanders may have enough depth to capture a playoff spot this season. The only question is if their play through the first 12 games this season will continue when the games become more important in April and May.

Islanders coach Ted Nolan doesn’t see that as a problem and is looking forward to the team establishing themselves as the season goes on.

"This is a real good character kind of team that doesn't quit,” Nolan told the Associated Press.