By VIN A. CHERWOO
AP Sports Writer
After two straight trips to the Stanley Cup semifinals, there were high expectations this season for the New York Islanders. There was also the excitement of finally moving into their long awaited new home. However, an early season slump and a COVID-19 outbreak on the team put the Islanders (37-35-10) into a tough hole they just couldn’t climb out of and they ended up missing the playoffs for the first time since 2018. Star center Mathew Barzal said he was encouraged seeing players talking right after the season finale Friday night about what they needed to do next season.