By Andrew Becker
There’s no doubt that lately, the Islanders aren’t playing the brand of hockey we have become accustomed to this season. Unfortunately for them, it couldn’t have come at a worse time. Right now is the final stretch of the season, and the Islanders had what seemed like an easier schedule this week, before heading into some crucial games against divisional foes next week.
While the Islanders came away with two narrow victories against the last place Ottowa Senators Tuesday and Thursday, these victories were sandwiched in between two embarrassing losses on home ice to the Philadelphia Flyers, who are also outside of a playoff spot. It seems as though the Flyers have had the Islanders’ number the second half of the season, as they have scored a multitude of goals with limited shots, and stole wins from the Isles despite being outplayed in their own end. Nevertheless, this week has many questioning their poor performance, and even looking back at the trade deadline disgruntled. So, what’s going on with the Islanders?
The team has been forced to make several minor adjustments, which may explain the lack of urgency in its game. On Sunday, the Islanders came off a huge victory in the return of John Tavares, only to give up an ironically more important game the next night, which saw them hand over first place of the Metropolitan Division to the Washington Capitals. From there the team looked to rebound against the resurging Flyers, but to no avail.
It’s almost as if the Islanders have been on such a tight, condensed run that they have been emotionally drained. Since that game in Toronto, the team just hasn’t been able to put it together. The goal scoring shut off until the Ottawa game, and even worse, they couldn’t keep the puck out of the net, which was the biggest surprise considering the play of both Thomas Greiss and Robin Lehner, not to mention that defense has been the Isles’ biggest strength all year. Now with Lehner’s injury, Greiss will take on a bigger workload for a while and Saturday was not a great way to start it off, as he allowed five goals on the first 12 shots.
A lot of fans on Twitter feel a tad shambled and think the current situation expresses the latter. The truth of the matter is that it’s just so hard to tell. The team had played great, and for me, I think Lou Lamoriello truly believed in his squad and would have tried to make something happen for the right price, but the asking price on the trade market was just too much.
Regardless, the Islanders must turn it around because the Metro is heading right down to the wire. They have important games coming up, starting off with the Blue Jackets and the Canadians this week. Let’s see how this one plays out.