Since the Isles rough stretch began this year, it has felt to me like they are facing their demons from last season - with a chance to avoid the type of losing streak(s) that killed their playoff hopes. Here's a quick analysis of the two seasons so far.
There appears to be a clear starting point for both skids, however the beginning of the streak's don't match up exactly so I think the best way to look at this is as a 20 game stretch. First, lets look at the numbers from last season:
2010 Games 1 - 7: 4-1-2
2010 Games 8 - 28 (the skid): 1-17-3 (5 pts in 20 games)
2010 Record after Game 28: 5-18-5 (15 pts in 28 games)
And the numbers from this season:
2011 Games 1 - 4: 3-1-0
2011 Games 5 - 22 (the skid (so far)): 4-10-4 (12 pts in 17 games)
2011 Record after Game 22: 7-11-4 (18 pts in 22 games)
And for the ease of direct comparison the numbers from last season for games 1 - 22 only:
2010 Games 1 - 4: 1-1-2
2010 Games 5 - 22: 4-11-3 (11 pts in 17 games)
2010 Record after Game 22: 5-12-5 (15 pts in 22 games)
As you can see, when you look at the totality of last years stretch, the isles this season appear to have played at least slightly better. However, if you look at the stretch from game 5 to 22 from both seasons, it's almost identical. Last season the islanders lost every game from game 23 through 28, a six game stretch which the 2011-12 team is entering now. Here is what that stretch looks like:
12/2 @ Chicago
12/3 @ Dallas
12/6 v. Tampa Bay
12/8 v. Chicago
12/10 v. Pittsburgh
12/13 @ Montreal
Not an easy run especially with the team not scoring. The islanders are currently 3 points ahead of their record from last season. Every point they get during the next 6 games will build upon that. Likewise, every point they fail to get will put them closer to the dismal pace of last season.
Even in the (extremely) unlikely event of a sweep of the next six games would put them only 15 points ahead of last years pace at the same point and if one assumes another great run from mid december till the end of the season (which probably will not happen) would only leave the isles with 88 points, 5 points out of the playoffs last year.
Still, a more realistic (though still tough) 3-3 over the next 6 would put them 9 points ahead of last years pace (and finishing with 81 pts assuming last years record from that point on) and at least show the team has made some progress.
Bottom line - the isles still have a chance to make this years pit a little less deep and impossible to climb out of than last years. I believe this team has had some bad luck on the offensive end and will score more eventually. Hopefully it's not too late.