NHL 2013-14: With Tavares up front and veteran Nabokov in goal, Isles eye return to playoffs

With their eyes squarely on the future, the New York Islanders can harken back to some recent history to build on.

For the first time in six years, the Islanders are starting a season after making a playoff appearance, and there is every reason to believe that reaching the postseason can soon become a much more common occurrence.

The Islanders stretched the Pittsburgh Penguins to six games, dropping the final two of the first-round series after splitting the first four. Just getting into the postseason was a major accomplishment, even in the lockout-shortened season, and the task will be even greater this time in a full 82-game campaign.

"I definitely see the expectations are higher, and people are going to expect for us to be in the playoffs," new captain John Tavares said.