The first games shined light on what will be the Islanders’ biggest issue in the 2021-22 season — scoring. Center Mathew Barzal led the team in points (45) in the pandemic shortened 2020-21 season, but he can’t carry the offense by himself without help from others in a full 86-game schedule. At the end of the first month, the Islanders ranked near the bottom of the conference in GFPG (2.14).
Winger Josh Bailey is a prime candidate to find goals after Barzal. Bailey finished with 35 points least season (but scored just 8 goals in 54 games). He’s turning 33 during the season and his abilities are due for a decline.
Goalie Semyon Varlamov started 7 games and finished with a 2.45 GAA, and .907 SV%. He is capable of better after notching 7 shutouts and a 2.04 GAA in 46 starts last season. LD Adam Pelech (+3) has provided some defensive help, but more will be needed from RD Noah Dobson (-2), and LD Zdeno Chara (-4).
Who’s Hot (Penguins, Wild, Kraken)
The Pittsburgh Penguins and Minnesota Wild finished the first month with the best overall record (7-1-0), tied with the Seattle Kraken (7-2-0) with 14 points.
The Kraken were the ranked second in GFPG (3.78). Their offense was fueled by C/RW Yanni Gourde who tallied 10 points (3 G, 7 A). But Gourde couldn’t stay out of the penalty box where he racked a team-high 12 minutes.
Evgeni Malkin put in a good first month performance for Pittsburgh, earning a team-high 12 points (7 G, 5 A). Sidney Crosby and Evan Rodrigues followed with 10 points each.
Who’s Not (NY Rangers)
While the Islanders struggled, their cross town rivals were even worse. The New York Rangers won just once in 9 games to finish with 3 points (last in the league). Elite goaltender Igor Shesterkin has a surprisingly bad beginning to the season with a 3.49 GAA and .897 SV%. Not one of the Rangers’ skaters finished in plus-territory in plus/minus.