Could the Islanders break the NHL record of 17 consecutive losses?

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It doesn’t take an expert or an impressively observant person to notice that things are bad for the New York Islanders right now. It would be bad enough that they’re on an 11-game losing streak, but they’ve also taken public relations hits after firing Scott Gordon and revoking beat writer Chris Botta’s press credentials.

They’re also missing two key pieces on a talent-poor roster thanks to the long-term injuries of Mark Streit and Kyle Okposo. (Let’s not ignore the fact that oft-injured big investment Rick DiPietro isn’t “all there” either.)

Yup, things are bad in Long Island.

In fact, the situation is so bleak that some people are wondering if the team might sink to historically low levels. Justin Terranova of the New York Post wonders if the Islanders – again, currently on an 11 game skid – could tie or even surpass the all-time record for consecutive losses (17 games).

It’s a situation that will only get more painful and difficult if the Islanders stamp themselves as the NHL’s longest loser. The record for most consecutive losses is 17 — shared by the 1974-75 Capitals and the 1992-93 Sharks. Those Capitals were an expansion squad, and the Sharks were in the second year of existence.

With that question in mind, I thought I’d take a look at the team’s next seven games. Which games seem the most “winnable” for the woeful Islanders? Let’s take a look.

Note: All records are taken from before Friday, November 20th’s contests.

Saturday, Nov. 20: Home against Florida (8-9-0)

The Panthers are a .500 team through and through, with a near-even overall record and a 5-5 mark in their last 10. Verdict: Moderately winnable.

Sunday, Nov. 21: On the road against Atlanta (7-9-3)

The Thrashers have been struggling a bit, having lost three in a row going into a tough one against the Capitals. Still, they’re in a big home stand and the Islanders won’t even get 24 hours between back-to-back games this weekend. Verdict: Tough situation, but winnable match-up.

Wednesday, Nov. 24: At home against Columbus (10-6-0)

The Blue Jackets are 5-1 on the road, but on the bright side, the Islanders will be well-rested. Verdict: Cozy situation, but very tough match-up.

Friday, Nov. 26: At home against New Jersey (5-12-2)

This very well might be the Blooper Bowl to determine the worst team in the NHL. The odd start time (1:00 pm ET) and local rivalry make it a coin toss. Martin Brodeur’s injury situation could make it the closest thing to an easy win for the Isles. Verdict: Very winnable.

Thursday, Dec. 2: At home against NY Rangers (10-8-1)

The Islanders receive a week off before having a back-to-back, home-and-home duo of games against the Rangers. Back-to-backs increase the chances of them only playing against Henrik Lundqvist once. Verdict: Tough match-up, but big break could help.

Friday, Dec. 3: On the road against NY Rangers (10-8-1) **Would tie the record if they continue to lose**

Again, one of these games could be against a Lundqvist-free Rangers squad. Verdict: Tough match-up, but back-to-backs might mean no Lundqvist.

Sunday, Dec. 5: At home against Philadelphia (12-6-2) **Would break record if they continue to lose**

If the Islanders bring a 17-game losing streak into this one, it will be difficult for the Isles to avoid humiliation. Verdict: Very difficult.

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After looking at the Islanders’ schedule, I don’t think that they will lose 17 games in a row (or worse). With some big breaks in between games and five of those contests at home, they have every reason to win at least once. Honestly, they might even go above .500 during that stretch.

Then again, you never know in the NHL.

Video: Drew Doughty (mostly) avoids massive Matthew Tkachuk hit

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Hockey is such a fast sport that it’s probably not so easy to make someone your “target.” Instead, a big hit often comes down to the right combination of circumstance and timing.

Still, there’s no denying that Matthew Tkachuk is gunning for Drew Doughty (and the Kings are gunning for Tkachuk) on Wednesday.

Doughty isn’t oblivious to that notion, either, as you can see him avoid what looked like a pretty terrifying hit above.

We’ve already covered the early violence in this game, and it’s quite possible that there will be more carnage going forward. Stay tuned.

Blackhawks bolster Central lead, shine harsh light on Penguins’ struggles

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Blame it on injuries if you want, or emphasize the Chicago Blackhawks’ overall hot finish to the season. Either way, Chicago scorched the Pittsburgh Penguins by a score of 5-1, a contest that felt more or less over by the time the first period ended 4-0 in the Blackhawks’ favor.

The Blackhawks scored by committee on Wednesday, with Artemi Panarin (goal, assist) and Patrick Kane (two assists) being the headliners. Meanwhile, former Penguin Marian Hossa has quietly climbed to 25 goals on the season.

Meanwhile, the Penguins limped through this one and have now lost four consecutive games.

With this result, the Blackhawks look like close to a lock to win the Central Division title. Meanwhile, the Metro crown is virtually unthinkable for Pittsburgh, and the Penguins might also need to accept the likelihood that they may not enjoy home-ice advantage in the first round.

They’d probably accept that more easily if they can get healthier and get back on track. Wednesday was a little worrisome in those regards.

Video: An early taste of the Tkachuk-inspired violence in Kings vs. Flames

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BREAKING: the Los Angeles Kings really don’t appreciate Calgary Flames rookie-pest-forward Matthew Tkachuk thanks to that elbow on Drew Doughty (and the fallout from all … that).

Tkachuk responded by critiquing Doughty for “complaining to the media,” so there was testiness from the start.

There was jawing before the game. Then Jake Muzzin rebuked Tkachuk’s kind offer for a fight. Finally, Keith’s son dropped the gloves with Brayden McNabb:

It wasn’t the only bout of the opening frame, and there could be more blood to come beyond this Jarome IginlaDeryk Engelland feud:

Players from both teams better keep their heads up (and on a swivel) tonight. The Flames have to hope that this doesn’t result in injuries, judging from what happened to Johnny Gaudreau.

Avalanche sign Toews-like first-rounder Tyson Jost

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Things have been pretty bleak for the Colorado Avalanche this season, but at least they can look to a high pick in the next draft … and maybe dream about how their top pick from 2016 may pan out.

The Avs signed Tyson Jost, the 10th pick of the 2016 NHL Draft, to an entry-level contract on Wednesday. Colorado notes that he’ll jump right into some NHL action to close out this season.

It’s a nice sneak preview, as NHL insider Bob McKenzie noted on an NBCSN appearance (see above) that doing so will not burn the first year of Jost’s entry-level contract. Nice.

Even nicer? McKenzie also compares Jost favorably to … (drum-roll, though the headline spoiled it) Jonathan Toews.

Most obviously, the two both starred at the University of North Dakota. For the sake of fun, here are their numbers in their final years in the NCAA:

Jost: 16 goals, 35 points in 33 games, +17 rating (2016-17)
Toews: 18 goals, 46 points in 34 games (2006-07)

Naturally, Toews enthusiasts in particular will tell you that points aren’t everything … but maybe there are some shades of the two-way Blackhawks center there?

The Hockey News’ Ryan Kennedy raved that Jost has “man-strength already” back around the 2016 NHL Draft, as you can see in this profile.

“Jost oozes confidence and already looks like NHL captain material for the future.”

Hey, that does sound at least somewhat Toews-like, doesn’t it?

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In other signing news, the Buffalo News’ Mike Harrington reports that the Buffalo Sabres signed UMass-Lowell’s CJ Smith. More on that below.