With the New York Islanders listing through a seasonlong pretty-good-but-definitely-not-very-good cycle of play just good enough to count on a playoff appearance and avoid losing streaks but just uninspired enough to excite virtually no one and avoid winning streaks, Jack Capuano finally named names.
Like, even more than just the sophomore youngsters names.
In what is a sign of just how persistent the ennui has been, and arguably just how much his own tenure is on the line over the next four weeks, Capuano broke his steadfast "keep it in the room" rule to acknowledge Ryan Strome, Brock Nelson and Josh Bailey were indeed some of the players he believes need to "pick their s*** up."
The Post story reporting his comments from the morning of tonight's game with the Tampa Bay Lightning continues an on-going refrain about the failures of the Islanders' expected "secondary scoring," much of whose expectations were based upon another step forward by Strome, Nelson and Anders Lee.
Lee, who has been hot lately and has kept up his shot generation, and Nelson have each struggled at various times this season. You'll find many, many conflicting arguments among fans and media about who's really to blame -- dropoffs from Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk earlier in the season here, missing stretches from John Tavares there, and then over here you've got Brian Strait (who has ironically been passable lately).
Wherever one falls in all of these endless and timeless sports debates, the upshot is STATUS QUO NOT WORKING. In the last run for this core before some free agent and salary dump/shift departures, the Isles have done nothing this season to show they can build on last year's results.
After 77 games, it's hard to expect more from this group. A regression puts the spotlight on a few players as well as the coach's expiration date.
Tonight they try to solidify their playoff position against a possible playoff opponent fighting for its division title.
Islanders (42-26-9, 4th/Metro) vs. Lightning (45-28-5, 2nd/Atlantic)
7 p.m. EDT | MSG+
Brooklyn's [ingloriously sponsored] Center
Seen Stamkos?: Raw Charge
Islanders team news includes Jean-Francois Berube suffering a minor injury that brought the recall of Man of the World Christopher Gibson as backup to Thomas Greiss.
Ryan Pulock slots in for Brian Strait.
The Lightning, meanwhile, are without Anton Stralman (Pulock cannon injury) and Steven Stamkos (blood clot). How sick and cruel it would be if pending unrestricted free agent Stamkos' time with the team ended that way.
The Lightning need only a point to clinch a playoff spot, but a win ties them for first with Florida.
The Islanders can move into a tie with the Rangers for third place with a win.
Tonight begins five games in seven days. They might as well win this one, as they have to travel to Washington for a game with the Caps tomorrow.
Then again, busy schedule...
...it's a good omen! Right?
If you're traveling to the game by train, good luck.
Leave your First Islanders Goal picks for tonight here.
44 - NYIFanInRI
29 - zack779
28 - Isle in Dixie
26 - 10 to 27 to 23
26 - vallay
24 - Captdallas
23 - DoctorOsty
21 - Psi*Psi
18 - DirtyIsle