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Cap'n Momentum?: Islanders Streak the Wrong Way Under Jack Capuano

Whether it's the coach's fault or not, the Islanders have proven to streak more often negatively under Jack Capuano, and rarely streak in the positive direction

We've won two in a row? Better start losing.
We've won two in a row? Better start losing.
Marianne Helm

I don't know how you can accurately evaluate a head coach in the NHL. Besides wins and losses, it's a tough task to know how much blame or praise can be put on a coach for his team's failures and successes.

I would think though, that an important part of coaching would be how a coach can motivate a team. This is important not only when they are playing poorly, but also when a team is playing well as a way to keep positive momentum going.

After the Islanders ended their 5-game losing streak on Thursday against the Rangers (and most fans came down off the ledge) I went back and researched losing streaks in the NHL. The conclusion: they happen to everyone.

The Stanley Cup champion Kings last year endured two different 5-game losing streaks. In 92-93, the year the Islanders first made Mario sad, the Islanders and the great Al Arbour had their own 5-game losing streak. In fact, even 30 years ago, Arbour's Stanley Cup winning Islanders had a 4-game winless streak, as well as two different 5-game winless streaks.

The thing I found that was alarming though, was the frequency at which Capuano's Islanders teams were having losing streaks of 4 or more games. Capuano's teams have had 10 different losing streaks of 4 or more games, more than any other coach hired by the Islanders in the 2000's.

Coach Games Coached 4 Game LS 5 Game LS 6 Game LS 7+ Game LS Total Losing Streaks
Jack Capuano 162 6 2 2 0 10
Scott Gordon 181 2 1 2 4 9
Ted Nolan 163 4 1 2 1 8
Brad Shaw 40 0 0 1 0 1
Steve Stirling 124 0 1 1 1 3
Peter Laviolette 164 3 3 1 0 7

What stood out even more than Capuano's number of losing streaks was the number of winning streaks of 4 or more games that his teams have had since becoming Islanders head coach.

Coach Games Coached 4 Game WS 5 Game WS 6 Game WS 7+ Game WS Total Winning Streaks
Jack Capuano 162 1 0 0 0 1
Scott Gordon 181 3 0 0 0 3
Ted Nolan 163 3 1 0 0 4
Brad Shaw 40 1 0 0 0 1
Steve Stirling 124 1 0 1 0 2
Peter Laviolette 164 2 1 0 0 3

Capuano's lone 4-game winning streak came 40 games into his first season with the Islanders. That means he has gone 122 games, pretty much a season and a half, without a winning streak of 4 or more games.

To put that into context, every Islanders coach since the initial hiring of Al Arbour has had a winning streak of at least 4 games. That includes the likes of Butch Goring, Rick Bowness, and Mike Milbury. So even the worst Islanders teams managed a 4 game winning streak at some point. Capuano's teams have had just 1.

Making matters worse, after looking over the few chances Capuano's teams have had to extend a 3-game winning streak to 4, the majority of those games were 3+ goal losses where the team looked to be completely outmatched. Two different 6-3 losses to Boston. A 3-0 loss to Toronto. A 4-1 loss to Tampa Bay. A 7-2 laugher at the hands of the Rangers. Not exactly a team that is building momentum when things go right.

To be fair, the players do play the games, but it is interesting to see how Capuano led teams seem to not be able to keep positive momentum going, nor be able to quickly turn around negative momentum.

Jack Capuano's record as Islanders head coach is 66-74-22. In comparison, the man Capuano replaced, Scott Gordon's record was 60-83-19 through the same 162 games. The record compiled by Gordon was with young, inexperienced teams mostly void of good NHL talent. Capuano has gotten his record with a lot of those same guys, but with years of growth under their belts, as well as a Top 10 (5? 1?) player in John Tavares.

I don't know how to effectively evaluate a coach. And losing streaks happen to most NHL teams and coaches. But the good coaches can offset losing streaks with equally as long winning streaks. That's one thing Jack Capuano has not been able to do.