I'm going to keep this post a bit shorter than normal, but I would really welcome fan feedback on this issue. This evening I was lucky enough to watch the Islanders defeat Tampa Bay in overtime with fellow blogger John Zadrozny of Yes! Islanders.
During the course of the game, and again during the extremely long video review of the game winning goal, John and I got into a debate. And this is what being a fan is about, in essence. We were just two guys, sitting in a pub somewhere, watching a team we love, and having a disagreement. Make no mistake, we both want the team to succeed and make us proud; we just look at the season from different perspectives.
The Islanders currently sit atop the Eastern Conference with 10 points. We are both elated. But the question is thus: How many games need to pass until we can accurately say that the Islanders are "for real?"
Of course, your definition might vary from ours. To some of you that might mean being a playoff team. To others it might mean finishing above .500 even if falling short of the top eight.
The coach and others have insisted that the goal this year is to make the playoffs. In my book, any team that considers itself playoff worthy, perhaps solid enough to stage an early round upset, even, is definitely "real."
The way they are playing now, with no clear scoring leader and a team of lunch pail "no names" (at least by NHL marketing standards), I'm inclined to think that they can succeed. I would like to see them keep it up for at least 20 games before I declare them "for real." Author and 'Hockey Insider' columnist Brad Kurtzberg agrees with my take. At the 1/4 pole, if they're still on their current points pace, he declares the Islanders legitimate.
John disagrees, though. He would like to see a sustained level of play for nearly 40 games. Half of a season.
So, fans, what's your take? Will the Isles cool off and begin their slide down the standings in a few games (like we've come to expect in the past)? Will they sustain this trend of squeaking points out almost every night? And how long must they keep up their act before you're ready to declare that they're back as a threat in the East?