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How to shift Islanders out of neutral

Nearly a quarter of the way into the season, it has been more of the same for the Islanders in their inaugural season in Brooklyn. The team is currently on pace to finish in the same position as last year's squad, as they sit third in the Metropolitan Division behind the Capitals and Rangers prior to tonight's game against the Kings in Los Angeles.

Here are three keys for the Isles to reach that next gear during the remainder of the season.

Get Strome back on track

Ryan Strome was third in points a year ago, helping to pick up the slack when Kyle Okposo missed nearly two months. But after a slow start to the year, Strome has been relegated to the AHL. The Islanders need to hope he figures his game out in Bridgeport because they can desperately use depth on the offensive end.

Keep Tavares healthy

Captain John Tavares has picked up where he left off last season, once again leading the team in points. However, a recent three-game stretch without Tavares, during which the Islanders went 1-2 against weaker opponents, certainly is cause for concern. After all, the team finished last in the division two seasons ago when Tavares missed the second half of the year due to a torn MCL suffered during Olympic play.

Protect Brooklyn

For the Islanders to become an upper echelon team, they need to create a home-ice advantage at Barclays Center similar to the one they possessed at Nassau Coliseum. The Isles skated to a 25-14-2 record at the old barn last season, while thus far the team is a pedestrian 5-3-2 in Brooklyn and have been playing in front of underwhelming crowds (29th in NHL).


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