1-18-5 is unacceptable against any team in any sport. It should be unacceptable to these players, this coach, this team and this organization. Forget that these games are against a divisional opponent. Forget that they are against the Islanders’ third (or fourth?) biggest rival. One of 24 is a 4.2% winning percentage. Walk into a casino and play any game they offer, you’ll have a better chance of success. Random chance has a better winning percentage.
The Islanders did play well tonight. They out shot the Flyers 35-22. Sergei Bobrovsky’s play in net for Philadelphia was a huge factor in the game. After 23 defeats out of 24 (note: the current coach is 0-for-5) a good effort is not something to hang your hat on. If the Islanders had lost to the Red Wings Tuesday but had a “good effort,” that would be something to hang your hat on. The Red Wings are one of the best teams in the league and no one expects the Islanders to beat them. The result against a non-conference opponent when you’re 10+ points out isn’t that big of an issue. The results against a divisional and regional opponent that you haven’t beat in ever are a different story.
Here’s a fun fact; the last time the Islanders had a winning streak against the Flyers was a five-game streak between January and April 2007 (they’ve had two wins in 28 games since that streak ended). This is a list of the current roster players who were on that team in 2007:
MICHAEL GRABNER VS. SERGEI BOBROVSKY
Want to know why the $51 million man Ilya Bryzgalov has been riding the Flyers’ bench throughout most of the
24/7 series season? A sub .900 save percentage is one reason. The other is Sergei Bobrovsky. Bobrovsky has a .921 save percentage and is 10-3-1 in 14 starts. Michael Grabner, among others, got a first hand look at Bob’s netminding. After a big time hook on a breakaway in the first period, Grabner was awarded a penalty shot and failed to score (the attempt was lacking).
In the second period Bobrovsky made a stunning save on another, much better, breakaway attempt by Grabner.
Grabner has been getting many more chances over the last few games, similar to the ones we saw in the second half of last season. He’s got to start finishing those chances. The Islanders are getting virtually no scoring out of their bottom three lines and Grabner is the most gifted scorer on those lines. He’s on pace for 12 fewer goals and 16 fewer points than he had last year while his shooting percentages are similar (14.91 last year vs. 12.36 this year). He was slowed by a groin injury in December but is clearly turning the corner in January. Now it’s time to make it count.
The Islanders continue their four-game homestand on Saturday against the Sabres. The Sabres are floundering lately, 2-6-2 in their last 10 and losers of three in a row. They’ve fallen to 11th in the conference and are banged up with Christian Erhoff, Tyler Ennis, Andrej Sekera and Derek Roy out for a significant period of time.