As another New York Islanders season rounds the final turn well short of even modest expectations (i.e., playoffs and more should be attainable in John Tavares’ final inexpensive contract year, and walk year), there are so many underlying causes to discuss.
But for the on-ice product, it comes down to a few key points.
Teetering on the cusp of fun and bad: An Islanders story. pic.twitter.com/ZxgIisBOx1— Sean Tierney (@ChartingHockey) March 16, 2018
The Islanders don’t limit chances enough (so even when their sub-average goalies are playing great, danger constantly lurks), they don’t create enough from a four-line attack, and their five-man defensive effort is too often lacking.
Like, really lacking:
“The Islanders just gave us a lot of room to skate on from the beginning,” said Capitals left wing Andre Burakovsky, who made it 4-2 at 3:12 of the second period after setting up T.J. Oshie’s goal to make it 2-1 at 11:29 of the first period.
“I mean, my first three shifts I was skating around and around and around with the puck and making plays,” Burakovsky added. “I mean, we didn’t really expect that out of them. We were expecting a little bit harder pressure when we had the puck. But, yeah, they just gave us a lot of ice to skate on.”
That quote, via Andrew Gross in Newsday’s postgame analysis of last night’s 7-3 loss, is pretty damning.
This was the opening period of a(nother) game all agreed they had to win.
The Islanders’ playoff chances are so tiny as to be laughable, and their play over the last three months to get them this point has so clearly marked them as a team incapable of surmounting the hole they dug. So forgive the players, I suppose, for possibly realizing this fact and allowing it to seep into their play.
Still, the first-place team in the Metro — the same one that beat them in that best-performing season in the chart above, 2014-15 — saw the Isles for what they too often are last night. It was chaotic (and fun!) but not really close early on. The superior visitors took what they were given and steadily pulled away.
Doug Weight, both the coach and long part of the management, still believes in the direction of the franchise. Many increasingly wonder if the captain does. More and more fans sound increasingly upset, exasperated because — whatever the merits, challenges and minor steps accomplished by the entire management regime here and there — at some point the same results season after season should be cause for...something else?
In so many ways, a big summer lies ahead.