A three-game losing streak is a thing that sometimes happens to professional hockey teams. To wit, even the best clubs in history—about which the New York Islanders franchise knows a thing or two, because dynasty—don't play 82-plus games in a season without encountering a few rough patches along the way.
This is just a function of the NHL calendar. We should accept it. "Let go and let Frans," as it were.
Which is why the wide-scale social media panic at the Islanders' three-game losing streak feels a bit...misguided. The sky is not falling. There is no need to sit shiva for the Isles' 2014-15 season. This team is not a circus wagon that has broken both axles and rumbled into a ditch and erupted in horror flames.
They've lost three consecutive games. That's all. They're still second in the Metropolitan Division (with a game in hand on Pittsburgh), fifth in the Eastern Conference, and eighth in the entire league. The entire league!
For reference, here is a list of every single NHL team that has not had a three-game losing streak this season: Chicago, Nashville, and Tampa Bay. Related: those are all fantastic teams.
The Islanders are pretty fantastic too
It's only the third such streak of the season for the Isles, and they righted the ship pretty decisively after the first two. After dropping three straight from Oct. 28 to Nov. 1, the Islanders rattled off road wins over the then-NHL-leading Ducks, defending-champion Kings, and recently-changed-their-name-to-include-the-state-in-which-they-play Coyotes.
They followed that West Coast road trip by coming home to beat up on the Avalanche 6-0, which was a game that can be described as "retribution for an earlier loss in Colorado" if you prefer a bland account of the action, or "a crime scene involving so much blood oh my god where did all this blood come from" if you prefer an accurate sketch of what happened that night at the Coliseum.
After their second three-game skid of the season (in early December), the Isles responded by beating the Blackhawks, Devils, Red Wings and Lightning. The final two wins of that streak came on back-to-back days and involved a late-night flight from Detroit to New York, which makes that win over the Lightning a closet-impressive feat, considering the details of that situation, like "travel" and "Halak playing his fourth game of the week" and "how good Tampa Bay is this season."
Do not press the big red button labeled FIAR EVERY1
For those concerned with a perceived lack of effort by the Isles in the last three games, we offer this: in an 82-game season, it's impossible to play every game like it's Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. This is a young club, with several key players—Calvin de Haan, Anders Lee, Brock Nelson, Ryan Strome—learning what it takes to play a full NHL schedule.
Bumps in the road are to be expected, and overreacting to a few losses when the team is in the midst of quite literally its best season since 1978-79 seems shortsighted. Yes, the penalty kill needs work; no, Chad Johnson hasn't been a revelation in net; and of course Kyle Okposo's injury is concerning.
But still: think back on your
sins feelings after the 5-0 shutout loss to Colorado on Oct. 30. Or the 5-4 Dec. 9 loss at Minnesota. And while you're thinking about how you wanted to smash your TV or tweet horrible things about the coaching staff, remember how quickly the tide can—and was—turned by these very same New York Islanders.
What we're trying to say is that we are all of us living in a functioning society, here. Which means that there are certain rules governing social interaction and behavior, and that having an emotional meltdown over trivial things like just missing your train to work or how this week's NHL power rankings treated your team are viewed as ridiculous by most people.
Along those same lines: maybe don't freak out when a team prone to extended losing streaks in the past but is sneakily one of the NHL's most possession-dominant in the present happens to lose three consecutive games in late January / early February.
(Playoff chance percentages courtesy of SportsClubStats.com)