At one point during this shortened season, the New York Islanders were in first place in the Atlantic Division.
It certainly seems impossible that the Islanders were once in first, considering they have now lost five straight contests. When New York got off to a relatively fast start, I stated that if this team could consistently play both sides of the ice, they could sneak themselves into a playoff spot. So, during this unfortunate five-game debacle, what has caused New York to become stranded on a losing Island?
Lack of Goal Scoring
Over the last five contests, New York has scored just nine goals. No wonder they haven’t won a game since Jan. 31. Guys like John Tavares (7G, 8A, 15 pts) and underrated goal scorer Matt Moulson (6 G, 7A, 13 pts) have been carrying the load offensively. But other than that, this team has lacked scoring depth. There was a lot of hype surrounding 24-year-old Kyle Okposo, considering he started the season on the talented top line consisting of Tavares and Moulson. However, after having just posted four points in 12 contests, Okposo has actually been demoted from the top line. With his blazing speed and tremendous hands, Michael Grabner has shown flashes of elite goal scoring ability at times. However, his inconsistency has been a problem. He has seven points on the year but has also had seven games where he has been held pointless. If the Isles want to get back on track, their secondary scoring options need to pick up the pace.
Inability to Close Out Games
Being a relatively young hockey club, the Islanders have had trouble finishing games strong this season. Back on Jan. 27, the Islanders blew a two-goal lead midway through the third period, ultimately falling to the Winnipeg Jets in overtime. Then on Monday night, they allowed the Carolina Hurricanes to overcome three deficits in route to yet another loss. This team needs to stay sharp when the game matters most, in the latter stages.
It’ll be interesting to see if the Isles can right the ship on Thursday night, as they face their neighbor rivals, the New York Rangers.