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Throughout this losing streak, the Islanders have found different ways to lose hockey games. For consecutive loss No. 10, they failed to field a complete lineup.
Opting against the protocol of most every team in the league, the Islanders decided to not bring an extra defenseman such as the reliable Dylan Reese for the West Coast trip – despite playing three games in four nights 3,000 miles away. With Jack Hillen sidelined today with the flu, Scott Gordon was left to coach the game with only five defensemen. As if playing the first-place Kings wasn’t enough of a challenge.
The Islanders dressed Jon Sim as the 13th forward. He played two shifts. Dean Chynoweth gave his five defensemen more than 20 minutes each, and the team spent most of the night chasing the Kings around the ice. As Butch Goring said on TV, “It’s going to take its toll on you.” Acknowledged Gordon, “I don’t think it helped. At times I thought we were over-extended.”
Anze Kopitar had two goals early, plus an assist. The Kings out-shot the Islanders, 34-19, including 13-3 in the third period even though they were already leading 3-1. Under GM Dean Lombardi, the young Kings have been re-built. The Islanders, losers of ten straight, have a long way to go.
A change to the coaching staff would just be a temporary distraction from far bigger issues. The Islanders have scored a total of eight goals in their last eight games. Key youngsters John Tavares and Josh Bailey, among many others, have been ineffective. This roster is shorthanded by injuries and a lack of talent.
“Pathetic,” captain Doug Weight called the losing streak. “We’ve got to find a way to get 60 minutes going, and find a way to win a hockey game.”
On Saturday night, Islanders management didn’t even execute the basic fundamentals of fielding a complete lineup.