Lou Lamoriello spoke to the media before tonight’s game, giving some canned answers about taking responsibility for moves he does or doesn’t make (well yeah, that’s your job! I would like to let everyone know I take responsibility for everything that is or isn’t in this recap, too) and about still believing in the team.
The team that he believes in, still, is on a 1-6-3 skid in their last ten games, losing six straight. The New York Islanders are sixth in the division, five points behind the Washington Capitals, who occupy the second wildcard slot as it stands right now. In this skid, they’ve dropped behind the Buffalo Sabres and Florida Panthers, and it’s possible they’ll be behind the Detroit Red Wings by the end of Friday night’s game.
During this skid, they’ve scored just 16 goals. They’ve let in 33. The offense can’t score, the defense looks like crap, and even Sorokin (who didn’t play tonight) has started to look human. The power play is 3 for 59! They put up one goal on a goalie with a sub .900 sv% who came into the game for the injured starter tonight!
It doesn’t really feel like there should be a lot of belief around this team.
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I hope you’ll forgive me for ranting instead of recapping, but, I mean, it’s all the same stuff as always, right? The Islanders can’t bury their opportunities, the few good ones they get. They can’t score on the power play, and no one even looks all that interested in doing it. Aatu Raty got to eclipse the 10 minute mark for the first time since his debut game, and even looked pretty good next to Mat Barzal, but we can’t allow that to stick, because the coach went full line blender down a goal.
There is no game plan. There doesn’t even really seem like a coherent team plan. The defense was this team’s strength, and so it was dismantled for parts that didn’t move the needle on offense. There are no real goal scorers. Mat Barzal hasn’t had a constant line mate since Jordan Eberle was let go in the expansion draft two years ago now. Anthony Beauvillier hasn’t been the same player since he scored the Game 6 OT winner at the Coliseum. Josh Bailey forgot how to play hockey after his 1,000th NHL game. Lou Lamoriello went out of his way to keep The Best Fourth Line In Hockey (aka a bunch of grinders on the wrong side of 30 at this point) which at this point is good for consistent injuries and the occasional fight. (Like tonight, when Matt Martin fought Austin Watson after the face off for... reasons?) Brock Nelson is apparently this team’s all-star and he went on a 14 game goalless streak this season. Mat Barzal has 1 point in his last 9 games, an assist in Toronto. Is he still nursing the injury that kept him out against Calgary on January 6?
Does anyone even care anymore? The whole season is slipping away, another wasted year for a team with a forward core in its 30s and a Vezina-worthy goalie signed at a relatively cheap $4 million/year. This is a team that should be in a playoff spot, or at least not actively dropping out of the race. It’s miserable to watch, from a core that provided so many good memories just two seasons ago!
Anyway, here’s Brock Nelson’s goal to make it 2-1 in the second, the only Islanders highlight worth noting:
Brock Nelson gets the #Isles on the board and increases his point streak to 4 games pic.twitter.com/PQxoCEtgvS— Isles on MSGSN (@IslesMSGN) January 26, 2023
The Islanders will be at UBS Arena on Friday, taking on the Detroit Red Wings, in a game that suddenly has a decent amount of impact on the standings. Detroit sits three points behind the Islanders with four games in hand in the battle for fifth in the wild card race.