The New York Islanders have started the season off on the right foot with a 12-8 record, one of the best in the Metropolitan Division. They look like a different team from the one that missed the playoffs last season, despite having mostly the same roster. They are faster and have a more potent offense, which has made the lineup look more balanced.
A lot of this has to do with first-year head coach Lane Lambert, who is allowing the Islanders to play more aggressively with an emphasis on offense. From defensemen joining the rush to skaters taking more shots on the net, they are averaging 3.30 goals per game.
Lambert’s system has particularly benefitted the younger players — some of them are on pace for breakout seasons. While the roster is veteran-heavy, a few young players have been able to step up and catapult the Islanders to the top of the Eastern Conference.
Oliver Wahlstrom is having a remarkable season and is one of the major reasons the offense has improved since 2021-22. He’s rounded out his game, allowing him to take advantage of his shooting ability and create scoring chances for his linemates. He has five goals and five assists through 20 games and, in his third season with the team, has finally established himself as a regular.
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A lot of his success this season can be credited to Lambert giving him a greater offensive role, where he plays in the top six and on the power play. However, Wahlstrom is also getting more open looks on the net in a faster offense and he is creating more scoring chances as a result. Against the Ottawa Senators on Nov. 14, he played on the power play and, in the first period, scored the team’s opening goal, setting the tone for a dominant 4-2 win. The 22-year-old forward is in the last year of his entry-level contract, but based on how he’s playing, he looks poised to be a part of the offense for the foreseeable future.
It’s been an up-and-down season for Anthony Beauvillier but one with plenty of big moments. He recently scored the game-winning goal in overtime against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Nov. 21 with a top-shelf shot on the rush, but he’s been adding a much-needed spark to the offense throughout the season. In back-to-back wins against the Carolina Hurricanes on Oct. 28 and Colorado Avalanche the following…