One of the surprise teams of the NHL last season is turning heads again this year, albeit for much more alarming reasons.
The New York Islanders ended years of futility last season when they snapped a lengthy absence from the postseason by clinching the eighth seed and a first round matchup with the vaunted Pittsburgh Penguins. The team was loaded with young talent like John Tavares, Kyle Okposo and Matt Moulson, but many still believed the Islanders were like lambs heading to the slaughter against the Penguins. However, New York did end up winning a couple games, and despite losing the series 4-2, many believed the Isles were trending up.
Two months into the season, those claims are looking a little unfounded. The Islanders are currently sitting in last place of the Metropolitan Division. They’re currently plagued with goalie issues, as not one netminder who’s taken the ice for New York has a GAA lower than 3.24. Moulson was dealt to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for sniper Thomas Vanek in a move that was supposed to boost New York’s offense. However, Vanek only has four goals this year.
Things hit a head last night when the Islanders were blown out of the water, losing to the St. Louis Blues 5-1. Frustration is building on Long Island, leading Tavares to call out his team’s pride and effort.
“We need to have a lot more pride,” the team’s captain stated. “You’re playing in the NHL … We proved a lot last year, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to just keep climbing. We’re not earning it.”
It’s not surprising to see this start for New York. A season like the one the Islanders pulled off last year leads to raised expectations from the league as well the team itself, which brings added pressure. Right now, it looks like the Islanders are buckling under it.
There’s still a lot of time left for the Islanders to get their act together. They’ve lucked out in the fact that they’re playing in the weakest division in the league, something they definitely have the talent to take advantage of. A big factor in getting back on track, though, is shoring up the goalie situation. The Vanek trade, while looking decent on paper, didn’t solve the team’s glaring hole in net.
At the moment, it looks like Tavares and his team will have to make do with what they have. For now they’ll have to take heed to their captain’s words and begin earning more wins.