PRESEASON OUTLOOK The year before they brought in Trotz and Uncle Lou and after being given up for dead they had a fine year, even surprising the Penguins in a first round sweep. More or less returning the roster people seemed split on if they were for real or if they would become the woeful Islanders again.
FINAL RECORD 35-23-10 6th in the rugged Metro, stomped the Panthers in the play in round, stunned the Capitals in six easy games, held off the Flyers in 7 before bowing out to the Bolts in a surprisingly tough six game series.
STRANGE STAT OF THE YEAR Matt Martin had only 8 PIMs at home, a regular Bing candidate, but on the road he had 32 or four times the amount. Anders Lee was plus 16 at home and a dreadful minus 8 away. The team scored 112 goals at home and a paltry 77 on the road, in spite of that they were a game over .500 on the road because the goaltenders were actually better away from home. They had only two goalies in net all year one of only a handful of clubs to say so.
HIGH POINT OF THE YEAR The playoff run, pure and simple. With a new barn on the way nothing excites a fan base like a nice playoff run.
LOW POINT OF THE YEAR After beating the Flyers 5-3 on February 11th they stood at 33-16-6 and fighting for the Division lead then the wheels fell off they lost 4 in a row scoring only 2 goals total (!) in those games, won a couple then lost 7 straight to close out the year and fall from second at the time all the way to 6th. They only made the postseason because of the 24 team covid situation.
WHAT WENT RIGHT With apologies to Couturier and Bergeron and all their fans if i needed a two way center today i would hands down take Barzal who plays like a third defenseman and scores 60ish points a year. Pageau IMHO is the most underrated two way forward in the game and has a snarl to boot. Brock Nelson came of age leading the team in goals and was extremely versataille playing all three forward positions and playing them well. The goalie duo of Varly/Greiss were damn good in the regular season and even better in the playoffs. Anders Lee had 20 goals and played physical and tough. Beauivillier had 18 tucks and showed flashes of being a potential 30 goal scorer. Their no name defense of Pelech, Toews, Pullock, Leddy, Mayfield and Boychuk all can move the puck but all are responsible in their own zone and make you pay by playing the body. Cizikas is one of the games top 4C's. Noah Dobson was gradually moved into the defensive rotation and didnt embarrass himself, he has upside at both ends of the ice. Brassard seems to have rediscovered his love of the game.
WHAT WENT WRONG two highly touted forwards Del Colle and Bellows were given a shot and ddnt impress, both looked way to raw. Ho Sang has fallen off the radar completely so in short their are no forwards who look that impressive ready to take the leap. Barzal has one glaring weakness, he is among the games worst faceoff men.
FREE AGENTS Greiss is almost certainly gone, pushed out of town by phenom goalie prospect Sorokin. Andy Greene came aboard at the deadline, did zero. He wont be missed. Neither will Martin or Kuhnhackl but they will miss Brassard a bit unless one of thekid forwards steps up.
OFFSEASON QUESTIONS Where are they gonna find offense? They were 23rd in goals scored and playing with a budget unless a kid or two or three steps up, the offense will continue to be a concern. Can Sorokin step in and be the next great under 25 goalie in this goalie strong Division? Should they go after Taylor Hall?
Keep in mind that yeah, they had a great run but if not for Covid they were a non playoff team. A lot went right but they still only snuck in, and the Diision isnt getting easier. I believe a lot of the same questions about their legitimacy from last season still carry over to this.