Many or all of the Islanders fans out there are pissed off with last night’s performance. If this is still the case, then allow me to be the calming influence. Even after last night’s game, I’m still confident that the Isles can pull through this. If you’re one of those fans that has season tickets and see no hope in sight, I would truly be indebted to you if you could use Ticketmaster exchange and give them to me when the Islanders do in fact make it. It’s not just about last night, it’s about going 3-7-2 in their last 12 games and at a time when the Islanders were fighting for the division and one of the top teams in the NHL, they simply tired out, collapsed and slumped. Islanders fans are no longer looking for answers. They want to shoot first and ask questions later, or they may not even care anymore and whisk the Islanders away to Brooklyn and be done with them. I’m here to give you the answers to that epic collapse and what Islanders fans need to realize what needs to happen in the next two games.
So what happened a month ago? Like I wrote, the Isles have gone 3-7-2 in their last 12. The Islanders penalty killing unit improved, but that was about it. The backup goalie situation was never truly fixed, but there was a severe issue that most people didn’t even realize or write about: The offense just died, burned out. I’m talking about the forwards here now, not everyone’s favorite whipping boy Brian Strait, the forward core. In the first 8 games the Islanders offense averaged an intimidating 1.5 goals per game. Now, if this were the mid 90’s and we had Martin Brodeur in his prime or had the Islanders kept Roberto Luongo and we perfected the Neutral Zone trap, the losing wouldn’t have been an issue because all we needed was that many goals to win. Simply put: If you want to blame a defensive defenseman like Brian Strait for the offense not scoring, go right ahead.
Over the last 12 games, defenseman Nick Leddy (5), Travis Hamonic (5) and Lubomir Visnovsky (6 in 7 games) all have more points than Kyle Okposo, Anders Lee, Josh Bailey, and Brock Nelson. Translation: PROBLEM!!!! Why is Calvin de Haan not playing? Because the old man, Lubomir Visnovsky, is on a hot streak right now. Could he play better than Strait? Sure. Could de Haan score more points than most of the forwards? Probably, and that’s the issue. So I truly believe when Capuano says he’s still tinkering with the lines because he’s not getting the production he once was at the beginning of the year.
So why do I believe the Isles can still make it? Have you been paying attention the last 4 games? In the last 4 games the Isles have gone 2-1-1. If Halak doesn’t pull a Bill Buckner, the Isles are at the very least undefeated in regulation. Their penalty kill for the last four games is a whopping 89 percent and they’ve been averaging 3.75 goals a game. Granted, you would like to see a full 60 minute game instead of 5 or 10, but what you saw in the Philly game was the resiliency needed for the playoffs. I’ve seen 60 minutes of good Islanders hockey just to see them lose, but they need the tenacity to go along with that resiliency. That’s where Halak comes into play. I’m going to be honest here, but I don’t think he’s ready for the playoffs. He needs to be shutting down teams 4 games ago. If last nights blunder did anything to him, it made him get angry and hopefully more focused from here on out. He needs to show up. The pieces seem to be falling into place again, but time is an issue for Halak.
Another thing of note: I’ve wrote about this twice now, so go back to the main page and look it up. If this were last year or the 2011-12 season, the Islanders would’ve made the playoffs last week. The Ottawa Senators are causing major havoc and some team will set a new NHL record for most points in a season and not make playoffs. That record currently stands at 95 held by the 2006-07 Colorado Avalanche and the 2010-11 Dallas Stars. Speaking of the Ottawa Senators, I’ve either been hearing or reading that their next opponent, the Presidents Trophy winning New York Rangers may just sit and rest a few players and play the Sens on cruise control. That’s the dumbest thing to go around. Why would the Rangers give the Senators a free pass one night with implications of playing each other in the first round? I asked a few Rangers fans if they wanted Ottawa in the first round, everyone of them said “Hell No!!” Let’s not be stupid here. Who do the Rangers want in the first round? The Pittsburgh Penguins. The Rangers would be all over them instead of a team with a never-say-die attitude. Besides that way if Boston keeps pace, they’ll play Montreal in the first round, which is what the Rangers want.
Gary was right, it’s time for the whole team to show up. The Islanders slump is over and the playoffs have already started for a few teams already, so their playoffs begin on Friday. Time to look into the mirror and get back to basics which is what made them successful before and will be again.