Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
The New York Islanders just seem deadset on losing games. Last night, despite two separate leads, including one in the third period, the Islanders lost to the Seattle Kraken in a shootout, falling to 0-5 after regulation and 5-6-5 overall, which is just an absurd record 16 games into the season. But here’s what is even more insane:
The #Isles have allowed 11 goals on the road trip so far. Only one has been at even-strength.— (@IslesFix) November 17, 2023
Are you f****** kidding me?
If they could kill a penalty, they’d be at least 2-1-0 on this road trip (I don’t think scoring only one goal against the Edmonton Oilers would have cut it, but who knows?). Three more power play goals against last night, which is exactly what they did the night before against the Vancouver Canucks, and comes on the heels of conceding two power play goals to the Oilers. I’m pretty sure the kill percentage on this trip is below 50%, which is just stunning.
I would say I don’t know what to say anymore if it were true. But it’s not: I’m mad. This has been the most frustrating stretch of Islanders hockey I have maybe ever watched because so much of their ails right now are self-inflicted.
I think what I’m feeling is that I don’t know how these problems can be solved if they haven’t been already. But maybe it’s the opposite; perhaps what I’m feeling is that I don’t know how these problems cannot be solved. Their PK is historically bad right now, and it’s obvious why: They’re just letting guys whip the puck around. There is no pressure, no sticks in lanes, and bad clears when they get a chance. And now, they’re all playing like they’re afraid to make a mistake, goaltenders included—although I would say it’s probably not Ilya Sorokin and Semyon Varlamov’s faults that the Islanders are 0-4-3 in their last seven. Any time they get a lead, they look scared.
Mercifully, this road trip ends tomorrow night with a visit to the Calgary Flames, who are not good right now. That has to be two points, plain and simple. Incredibly, this season is not lost despite a seven-game losing streak only 16 games into it because much of the Eastern Conference has also gotten off to a middling start. They’re only three points out of the last wild card with a game in hand and three points out of third in the Metro, although now they have several teams to jump for either spot. But they’re not dead yet, somehow, and a win tomorrow night would do wonders for their playoff hopes—and, frankly, their fragile psyches.
At this point, I’m not sure a win saves Lane Lambert’s job, but I do think a loss would ensure that he’ll be out of one. I don’t want to see anyone fired, generally speaking, but sometimes certain jobs aren’t the right fit for people. I am becoming less convinced by the game that NHL head coach is the right fit for Lambert.
- Recaps from last night (I’m not going into detail, and you don’t want me to go into detail): [LHH | Islanders | Newsday | NY Post | THN | NYI Skinny]
- Matt Martin had an upper-body injury, and Julien Gauthier had an illness. So Hudson Fasching subbed in on the fourth line. [Isles DTD]
- Lambert has one punishment tool in his belt: limiting ice time. And he did skip captain Anders Lee’s next shift following his third-period penalty that allowed Seattle to tie it at 3-3, despite Lee having finally scored his second goal of the season. [Newsday]
- Lee felt that they have been getting jobbed by the refs. Maybe so, but it happens to every team. Good teams kill off those bad calls. [NY Post]
- Three things they should and should not do to get out of this malaise and salvage this season. [The Athletic]
- On the 32 Thoughts Podcast, Elliotte Friedman addressed many topics, including where the Isles go from here; it seems he’s speaking with the Flames, their next opponent, and Friedman wondered about Oliver Wahlstrom, as well as Lambert.
Last night’s NHL scores include the Ottawa Senators blowing a 4-0 lead to the Detroit Red Wings in Sweden before stealing back the win in OT thanks to a Tim Stützle two-strike, choke-up-on-the-bat single. Also, the New Jersey Devils defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins. I’m just glad it ended in regulation.