Islanders Puck Talk – Weekly Review
This Islanders season has been a nightmare since the new year turned. The team has zero direction, Doug Weight may not actually be a good hockey coach, and Garth Snow has skated by another deadline with nothing to show for a team that is bad enough to not make the playoffs but good enough to stay five points out the whole season. I’ve already touched on this, but Garth Snow needed to do something during the trade deadline and he didn’t.
The worst part about this season was that it was essentially a do or die for this franchise. The Belmont deal was done and all they needed to do was play good hockey the rest of the season to make the playoffs. Instead, they find themselves five points out of a playoff spot with little hope to make it and the biggest pending free agent in years weighing his options. The Islanders needed to show that they’re willing to do whatever it takes to keep John Tavares, and they haven’t. I wouldn’t be surprised if he walks at this point.
Thursday, February 22, 2018 – @ Toronto Maple Leafs
The Islanders got off to a torrid start in this game and once again couldn’t finish the job. Ryan Pulock and Mathew Barzal scored in the first to give the Islanders a lofty two goal lead but Mitch Marner cut the lead in half late in the period. It seems to be the Jack Capuano era all over again where the Islanders completely outplay their opponent then lose momentum at the end of each period.
There was no scoring in the second period but the Islanders played very disciplined. It’s maddening because there are stretches where they actually look quite good in the defensive zone. However, all it takes is one or two lapses to completely lose control of the game, which seems to be the Islanders’ M.O.
The third period was an absolute dumpster fire. Morgan Rielly ties the game up immediately to start the period. Jordan Eberle looked to have calm things down for a bit with a goal to give the Islanders a 3-2 lead but closing out games recently seems to be an impossible task. Auston Matthews tied it up at 3 late in the period to take this one to overtime.
The overtime period was a crazy back and forth battle with Jaro Halak and Frederik Andersen standing on their heads for the entire five minutes. It was some fun hockey but fun doesn’t matter when you’re trying to win hockey games. The Islanders couldn’t score in a shootout and lost 4-3.
Leafs 4, Islanders 3 (SO)
Saturday, February 24, 2018 – @ New Jersey Devils
The Devils – Islanders game got off to a late start due to the Patrick Elias ceremony where his banner was raised to the rafters. Elias was a great player and looked to provide a spark for the Devils. There were no goals in the first period but it was some physical hockey out there.
Jordan Eberle continued his solid season with his 22nd goal of the year to make it a 1-0 game. The Islanders once again looked poised and disciplined in their own zone, holding the Devils to just 33 shots in the game (it’s a lot but it is a lot better than what it’s been the past few weeks).
The wheels fell off once again in the third as new Islander killer Kyle Palmieri scored twice and put the game away essentially by himself. The Islanders couldn’t muster many shots at the end of the third period and a 1-0 lead turned into another deficit they just couldn’t overcome. It’s actually impressive how bad they’ve been recently in games. As per Arthur Staple of the Athletic, the Islanders have been just 2-2-2 after taking a lead into the third period.
Devils 2, Islanders 1
Wednesday, February 28, 2018 – @ Montreal Canadiens
The Islander HAD to have this game if they had any hopes of getting back into the playoffs and it started out great with a beautiful goal by Mat Barzal. The kid is relentless and sped right around two Habs defensemen to tuck home a backhand past Antii Niemi. Unfortunately, that lead would only last for a few minutes as Paul Byron struck for the Canadiens to tie it at 1.
What has usually been a strong period for the Islanders turned into their worst, surrendering two goals in the second; One an absolute softie from Jaro Halak by Jonathan Drouin on the PP, and the other by Nikita Scherback, who now has two goals on the season. The Islanders had one period to save their season.
What did the Islanders do? They laid an absolute goose egg. Zero energy, zero flow, and a 3-1 loss to shut the books on another disappointing season. What kind of spark does this team need from them to realize that they are about to play themselves out of a playoff spot? I just don’t understand the lack of urgency considering your season is on the line every time you step onto the ice.
Canadiens 3, Islanders 1
Really the only two players who have played consistently well over the past few weeks have been Jordan Eberle and Mathew Barzal. Barzal finishes the month with sixteen points, tops among rookies, and Eberle is quietly having another consistent season with 20+ goals with the potential to get to 30. The second line has continued to be great even with this team slump and it’s one of the lone positives to build on going into next season.
Just about everything else has gone wrong. John Tavares doesn’t have a point in eight games, the defense has been lackluster at best, and Garth Snow refuses to load the team up with talent. On top of that, news came out that Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment CEO Brett Yormark trashed the Islanders over and over in a piece with Newsday’s Randi Marshall. To paraphrase, Yormark said the Islanders were a “rent-a-team” and that they did very little in their relationship with Barclays Center to make things work. Hey Brett, instead of worrying about what the Islanders are doing why don’t you fix a couple of things. First, market the team to the area instead of just throwing the Islanders on the ice with very little fanfare around the arena and surrounding neighborhoods. Second, stop trashing the team that will be playing in your arenas for the next three years and pretending that it’s all their fault that you’ve done essentially nothing to help them out. Third, the actual Barclays Center is not a hockey arena; How about making some minor modifications so there aren’t over 1,000 obstructed view seats that no one buys and the ice isn’t soft as ice cream every time the Islanders play? Just a thought.
Islanders fans, it’s been a really bad season. It pains me at this point to write recaps every week because I have to say the same things over and over again. Once again, this is a cultural thing and things won’t get better until the team changes its ways. Maybe the new ownership will realize this and fire Garth Snow to at least get a fresh start. How much worse can it get? Follow me @SupRos22 for all your depressing Islanders news, and follow @DoubleGSports for all other sports coverage.