Well, it took 71 games, which is roughly 35 more than usual, but I am officially worried about this Islanders club and just how this season will end.
Granted, we all know this team isn’t built to contend for a cup right now and a lot of people, including myself, would be content with a 2nd round exit, but as it stands the Isles even making the playoffs is very much so up in the air.
Their first 4 game losing streak of the year, 8 goals in their last 6 games, and a slide from 4th in the East to 7th in a matter of days, the Isles are certainly not in the greatest of spots with a week left in March.
Is it the Goaltending?
Any other year and excuse #1 for this current skid would be the fact the Isles lost Jaro Halak two weeks back, subsequently putting the load of the final dozen and a half games on the duo of Thomas Greiss and JF Berube.
Greiss’ first year in New York has been impressive to say the least, and has helped fans swallow the pill that is loosing Jaro for the final 6 weeks of the season, but Greiss is no Roy [no matter how much I hype him up] and he isn’t going to pin 1 goal games night in and night out, if Jaro needed run support on a nightly basis, Greiss needs it just as much. I can’t pin this slide entirely on Greiss Almighty, because he is doing more than what was expected of him, but he can’t do it all by himself.
Which leads me to the offense, or the lack there of.
Is it the Forwards?
Following impressive years out of youngsters like Ryan Strome, Brock Nelson, and Anders Lee, many people smarter than myself pegged the Isles to have one of the league’s better offenses heading into the year. But with Strome being relatively non-existent the entirety of the year, mixed with Brock Nelson hitting streaks of mediocrity on a weekly basis, the regression of the Isles’ kids has set the offensive production back drastically; to the point where even Tavares has had moments of underwhelming play.
It’s easy to look at Tavares’ numbers this year and draw the conclusion that he has been in a yearlong slump, but with his go-to man in Ryan Strome seeing his point production cut in half compared to last year, mixed with the fact #91 is the only constant on the first line, it’s clear JT’s rough year is more a product of his environment and not entirely on himself.
Looking at you, Garth.
Is it the Defense?
It’s hard to throw salt in the direction of this team’s D. Boychuk is Boychuk, and despite the ever so rare off night, it’s hard to #write #mean #words about #55, just too innocent, too strong, too lovable [I’m a professional, I know]. de Haan has seen a noticeable progression in his game and has quickly risen from one of the fanbase’s bigger punching bags to valuable mid-pair defensemen, and a player I wouldn’t want to not see in orange and blue. While Thomas Hickey has also made noticeable gains, but still has moments where you find it hard to believe he’s a former 4th overall pick who captained Canada in the WJC just a few years back.
Of course, there is the fact Brian Strait is still in our lives despite Ryan Pulock having made a splash in his first few games in the bigs. Pulock hasn’t been perfect, and I’m no
Friedman scout, but seeing Strait playing in spite of Pulock is more than questionable at this point. Yes, they both bring different styles of play, but for whatever reason Capuano frequently deems Strait’s style of sucking at hockey more valuable than Pulock’s strong two-way play. Your guess is as good as mine.
With 11 games to go, 6 of which coming against teams outside of the playoff picture, all hope is not lost. If the season ended today we’re all tweeting eatin’ memes and talking playoff match ups, but with the metro having been the wild wild west since October, and the Islanders constantly finding themeless streaking both up and down, just where this team will finish, and whether it means post-season hockey, is anybody’s guess with just weeks to go.
PS – Last game of the year comes against Philly, I kind of hope it doesn’t mean anything, but then again I kind of hope it does. Suck it Jordie.