The New York Islanders destroyed the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday night. Staring down games against the league-worst Columbus Blue Jackets and reeling Buffalo Sabres, we salivated at the possibility of taking six of a possible six points, nearly solidifying their playoff hopes.
I guess they want to do this the hard way.
They took just one point from their game against the Blue Jackets and didn’t even bother to show up last night against Buffalo—in front of tons of kids on Nickelodeon day, by the way, who surely wouldn’t want to be a new fan after watching that disaster. Kyle Palmieri said, after the overtime loss to Columbus, that they didn’t come “ready to play.” How a team in the thick of a wild card race could possibly need to manufacture motivation escapes me, but fine, one game wouldn’t kill you. And acknowledging that before yesterday’s game meant, to me, that they were not going to let that happen against the Sabres. Yet they did exactly that. Maybe they’re exhausted—although they have had more time between games than most of the other teams around them.
Fortunately, the Florida Panthers lost in regulation. So even though the Pittsburgh Penguins won, the Islanders still hold good odds to make the postseason. But the Islanders have a tough stretch coming up. Part of why the Islanders’ chances looked so good entering the weekend was having games against Columbus and Buffalo, good opportunities to get points. Once again, however, they played down to their opponents, the season's story.
Upcoming, they face the New Jersey Devils at home and Washington Capitals on the road, and then visit the Tampa Bay Lightning and Carolina Hurricanes back-to-back. Hey, maybe these more challenging games are just what they need to earn points.
About last night’s debacle:
- Their “lazy, slow play” cost them two more important standings points, making their job that much more difficult. [LHH]
- Of course, Kyle Okposo broke the scoreless tie with the game-winner, and of course, they barely tested Eric Comrie, who gave up ten (10!) goals last time out, to let him get a shutout. [3 Takeaways]
- They were disconnected all night. They still had a chance, thanks to Semyon Varlamov, the only guy who did show up last night. But he can’t put the puck in the other team’s net. [Newsday]
- Samuel Bolduc seemed to get singled out for articles, as he made an egregious turnover early in the game that Varlamov bailed him out on and then was benched for long stretches. But he answered the questions asked of him. [NY Post]
- As I noted, it just makes the final games that much more important. [NY Post]
- Comrie became the first goalie in nearly 60 years to record a shutout in his next outing following a ten-goal shellacking. Also, that was the first game the Sabres won without scoring three goals since last year. [NYI Skinny]
- What does Lane have to say about all that?
Lambert Postgame Availability pic.twitter.com/UHxVOGJBtf— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) March 26, 2023
Other Isles bits:
- The inability to pull away in the race just means that they’re increasing their own anxiety. [THN]
- Stefen Rosner answered your questions following last night’s disappointment. Bo Horvat’s lack of offense is starting to become a concern, and last night, he wasn’t even doing the little things right. [THN]
- Hudson Fasching is making an impression on the Islanders. Better late than never, right? [Newsday]
- One bright spot from the weekend was Zach Parise scoring his 20th goal of the season, making him and his father, J.P., the fourth father-son duo to record 20-goal seasons for the same team. [Newsday]
- However, perhaps Horvat and Pierre Engvall weren’t enough. Perhaps they needed more at the deadline. [The Athletic]
Last night’s NHL scores include the Rangers beating the Panthers in regulation. The Penguins blew yet another third-period multi-goal lead to the Capitals before Anthony Mantha gave away the Caps’ point to Evgeni Malkin with 1:20 remaining.