In the paranoid, police-state Country of Islanders, where even an honest, straight-forward discussion of facts that aren’t shiny-happy is met with disdain from the rulers, you might not hear about the following these days.
The Islanders have the 28th-ranked power play in the NHL.
They have the 28th-ranked penalty kill in the league.
The Islanders are 28th in the NHL in goals scored per game.
They are 23rd in goals-against per game.
Trent Hunter does not have a power play goal in 19 games and has done little 5-on-5. John Tavares has no power play goals in 25 straight, yet the coaching staff continues to place the 19-year-old on the first unit. It’s tough to point out most other slumps because you cannot expect too much of many of the players – Doug Weight, for example.
On Sunday the Islanders had a brief 5-on-3 and a long 4-on-3 in the third period and Tomas Vokoun did not have to stretch. Rob Schremp had a telling line about the opposition goalie before the third: “If he is standing up all the time, we’re not making him work hard enough.”
The talk from coaches about how the Islanders “out-played” a team in this period but not in that period, or “had the better of play 5-on-5” or “played three games in four days” is getting awkward. It’s time the bar was raised.
For reasons we can argue til Thursday – the sidelining of MVP Dwayne Roloson, the lack of depth on defense, the over-reliance of young players – the Islanders have temporarily lost their mojo. Coincidentally or not, it began two weeks ago when the organization started thinking big and hanging up the playoff standings in the locker room.
They had a heartwarming run in January until then. They’re certainly capable of having another one. The way the bottom of the East is playing, the Islanders will be in the playoff race at the Olympic break no matter how they fare the next two weeks. (There will be no draft watch – not when they’re a lot closer to the playoffs than one of the three worst records in the league).
The Islanders are just one of five teams in the league that are below NHL .500. They have won 23 of 56 games. Of those 56 games, the Islanders have won just 12 in regulation.
For now, they are what their record says they are.
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