Islanders maturing into Eastern power

The Islanders have given the home faithful much about which to cheer thus far this season. Alex Trautwig/Getty Images

John Tavares will tell you that the New York Islanders haven’t always been this mentally tough. They haven’t always been able to shake off a couple of losses, dig in and move on.

Twice this month, the Islanders blew three-goal leads. Those are the kinds of demoralizing losses that can send a team into a funk. Maybe a younger Islanders team would have been sent spinning after the collapses against the Wild and Blues earlier this month.

Now it’s looking like those games will just be momentary blips in an Islanders regular season that is shaping up to be memorable.

With an impressive back-to-back sweep of the Red Wings and Lightning over the weekend, the Islanders now have won four consecutive games. They’re putting serious heat on the Penguins at the top of the Metropolitan Division. In the process, they’re learning how to manage the ebbs and flows of a regular season.

“This is my sixth year,” team captain Tavares said when we chatted. “We’ve made the playoffs once. There’s been ups and downs,” he said.