The Islanders need to learn how to finish teams
It’s a tale as old as time. The Islanders outplay a team badly in the first period, only go up by a goal or two, then slowly start to fade and let said team back in the game. In most situations over the past ten years, they either completely blow the game or give up a backbreaking goal with a minute or so left.
This has happened a few times already this season. The two most glaring examples are the most recent game the Islanders played, Friday night against the Devils, and their October game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Islanders were lucky in the fact that they were able to overcome blowing three one goal leads in three periods, including a goal given up with just ten seconds left in the game. It was definitely a positive that every time the Devils pushed back, the Islanders never conceded and got the lead right back. However, the Islanders, at least as long as we’ve known them, have always had a problem closing out close games.
The Tampa Bay game was the most disheartening of the season because they easily outplayed the Lightning and let the game completely slip away from them. After holding a 3-2 lead late into the third, they gave up a goal to tie it and then lost the game with just two minutes left to play. Games like that are the reason why no matter who is behind the bench, Islander fans never feel safe with a lead.
At the end of the day, the Islanders are fully exceeding expectations. They are 11-8-2 in a crowded Metro division. They could easily win the Metro right now, or they could go on a three game losing streak and wind up in the basement. Regardless, Barry Trotz has this team playing hard. The difference now is getting them to play smarter down the stretch of close games.