For the umpteenth time this season, already a personal record for a given season, the New York Islanders made me so mad that I needed extra time to unwind before going to bed. Aside from my emotional priorities, something has to change.
Last night’s regulation loss to the New Jersey Devils—which should have been a regulation win against a team they’re supposed to be battling for a playoff spot—featured all the hits of the 2023-24 Islanders: poor decision-making, unnecessary penalties, a blown multi-goal lead, and a third-period collapse, perhaps the most embarrassing and demoralizing of all this season’s third-period collapses.
When it happens once in a season, it’s annoying but ultimately not a big deal. Twice, thrice: more frustrating but whatever. Now here’s what the Islanders have done in just 21 games this season:
This was the ninth time the Islanders have either given up the game-winner in the third period or allowed the game to be tied and lost in overtime.— Ethan Sears (@ethan_sears) November 29, 2023
Full list, by my count:— Ethan Sears (@ethan_sears) November 29, 2023
Since Oct. 30, the Islanders have blown these leads in the 3rd period alone:— Rob Taub (@RTaub_) November 29, 2023
The #isles have dropped 5 points from games with a 2 goal lead.— Michel Anderson (@TLOMitch) November 29, 2023
They would be 2nd in the Metro if they could just close out a 2-goal lead.
That’s why I couldn’t fall asleep until 1:00 a.m. even though the game ended around 9:45. It’s not like they’re just getting their doors blown off every night; they’re in most of these games. Yet, watching it unfold, even though I knew exactly how it was going to go—maybe not exactly, since I at least expected them not to squander the point by losing with 20 seconds left on the clock; imagine my surprise—I still grew angrier and angrier, angrier than the last time, which was angrier than the time before that, which was angrier the time before that, and on and on. It’s the same problem almost every game, costing the Islanders standings points, especially considering how much they have led games this season.
And at this point, the failure to figure out any of this is a fireable offense. As I’ve said before, I don’t feel comfortable using a public forum to call for someone’s job, but it would almost be a mercy firing at this point (and also, he still gets paid the duration of his contract, so he’s not completely out on his ass). Lane Lambert isn’t taking a hooking penalty while the Islanders are on the power play. He isn’t failing to clear the zone despite having ample time to do so, and he isn’t leaving the slot wide open for two different former first-overall picks. But he can’t seem to find a way to get his guys to stop doing that shit, which is one of his primary responsibilities. I don’t know, maybe it’s part of the difficult transition from assistant coach to head coach of the same group of guys.
On top of that, besides last year’s stretch run, I have yet to see one of Lambert’s systems look good or yield results. For some reason, he appears unwilling to bring that style back, despite the roster being constructed more for that style of play. Unless he can figure this out, or unless Lou Lamoriello drops the ax, this mess will continue.
But considering they evidently flew to North Carolina last night and earned themselves a practice instead of a day off from the coaching staff, I would imagine Lambert will be back behind the bench Thursday night. Godspeed, I guess.
About last night:
- The thing about so many of these blown-lead losses is that they played well, and for long stretches! Most of the first 40 minutes were great, and so were the first five minutes of the third. Then they made one mistake, and the wheels fell off. [LHH]
- The loss snapped their six-game point streak just as it looked poised to go to seven. [3 Takeaways]
- It’s even worse when they blow a two-goal lead. You can almost see them waiting for the tying goal to happen. When did they get so fragile? Was Josh Bailey the glue? Jordan Eberle? Hell, Leo Komarov? [Newsday]
- Like, how many times do we have to write that it was a “crushing” or “heartbreaking” loss? It’s reaching the definition of insanity. [NY Post]
- J-G Pageau finally scored a goal to make it 4-2, completing a pretty pass from Mat Barzal, who also had a great game until he took an unnecessary hooking penalty on a third-period power play, setting up the Devils to tie it. [Newsday]
- Lots of quotes at the bottom of this one, none of which I find comforting. [THN]
- 7-1-3 when leading after two. [NYI Skinny]
Onward, since that’s the only way we can go:
- Noah Dobson, already leading this defense corps this season, has stepped up even more in Adam Pelech and Sebastian Aho’s absences despite playing his off-side. [NY Post]
- Mike Reilly, who had a good game other than his turnover on the first Devils goal, is getting another chance to contribute. [Newsday]
- The Islanders Award Winners series continues with Denis Potvin’s Norris-winning 1979 season. [LHH]
- ‘Tis the season: The Islanders’ significant others went holiday shopping. [Islanders]
- This (Yester)day in Isles History: Billy Smith became the first goalie credited with a goal (1979); Roberto Luongo won his NHL debut (1999).
- The Chicago Blackhawks unconditionally waived Corey Perry for the purposes of terminating his contract. GM Kyle Davidson spoke, saying it was a “workplace matter” but not divulging what it was exactly that led them to send him away and ultimately move to terminate him, although he did clarify that it did not involve another player or their family. [Sportsnet]
- It is funny that yet another Blackhawks scandal overshadowed Patrick Kane finally making a decision, signing a one-year deal with the Detroit Red Wings. [NHL]
- A little more about the Perry situation and the Kane signing, plus rumors from around the league. [TSN Insider Trading]
- The Vancouver Canucks cap-dumped old friend and return piece of the Bo Horvat trade Anthony Beauvillier. He was sent to the Blackhawks for a fifth-rounder. [NHL]
- The Player Draft is returning to All-Star Weekend. Sure, why not? [NHL]