While the Islanders were excited to bring in Lou Lamoriello and Barry Trotz last offseason, it's hard to imagine that the franchise expected such positive results so quickly.
As of Feb. 19, New York sits in first place in the Metropolitan Division, three points ahead of Trotz's former team in Washington, the defending Stanley Cup champion.
One of the biggest reasons for the Islanders' vast improvements has been on the defensive side of the ice. The team has allowed a league-low 133 goals, coming in with a 2.29 goals against per game through 58 contests. The next best mark is Boston at 2.55 goals against.
Trotz joined WFAN's Evan Roberts and John Jastremski on Tuesday to discuss the team's surprising success this season.
"I think it's buy-in," Trotz said when asked what caused New York's drastic turnaround. "Obviously defense is about positioning, it's about work ethic, it's about pride and executing in certain situations. I knew we could come in and fix a lot about that. Could we get it to the extent of being No. 1 overall in terms of goals against? I don't know if I believed that was possible or not, but I knew I could get it up the ladder to a respectable factor, probably in the top-third as a staff.
"It starts with the players. They have to buy in. ... The strength is in the group, not in the individual, and that's been the strength of our hockey team."
The Islanders' defense has played a very large role in the team's success this season. However, it is clear that New York would not be in the position it is currently in without the superb play of goalies Robin Lehner and Thomas Greiss.
Entering play Tuesday, Lehner (2.08) and Greiss (2.20) rank one and two in the league in goals-against average. Additionally, both goaltenders find themselves in the top three in the NHL in save percentage.
The Islanders' head coach made it clear that having both goalies available each night gives the team a big upper hand.
"The way they are right now in terms of save percentage and wins and all that, it's almost they're mirroring each other," Trotz said. "It does make (picking a starting goalie) a little more difficult. ... Allowing both goaltenders to sort of share the load a little bit, they get real good time with (assistant coaches) Piero Greco and Mitch Korn, and they keep their game really sharp all the time, and that gives us an advantage.
"I think it gives us a real advantage. ... Keeping them fresh allows them, I think, to be sharper."