islanderslose

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

1 Comment

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.

***

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.

Ducks give Bruins first loss under Cassidy, putting … Islanders in wild card

ANAHEIM, CA - FEBRUARY 22:  Korbinian Holzer #5 of the Anaheim Ducks pushes David Backes #42 of the Boston Bruins during the second period of a game at Honda Center on February 22, 2017 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Getty
Leave a comment

Wednesday was a night of futility in the Eastern Conference wild card races, so it make sense that a team that didn’t even play ended up grabbing the second spot.

To recap:

  • The Florida Panthers began the night in the second wild card spot. However, they were knocked down the totem pole when they lost in regulation to the Edmonton Oilers.
  • The Boston Bruins inherited the second wild card spot from Florida, but the Anaheim Ducks just gave them their first loss under Bruce Cassidy. With that defeat coming in regulation, it meant that the Bruins’ stay in the East’s top eight lasted mere hours.
  • So, congrats to the New York Islanders, who enjoyed the rare tiebreaker treat of climbing into playoff position even though they didn’t even play on Wednesday.

(The Philadelphia Flyers were out of reach here, but they didn’t do themselves any favors in losing to the Washington Capitals.)

Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak were kept off the board as Jonathan Bernier won one for the Ducks, who stay right behind the Edmonton Oilers in a battle for second in the Pacific.

Despite Pastrnak’s -3 rating in this one, Marchand probably had the toughest night thanks to Bernier and Josh Manson:

This one hurts, but it’s also a reminder that there will probably be plenty of twists and turns in the races for the lower spots in the East and Atlantic Division. With that in mind, the Bruins have to shake it off and get ready to face the Kings in Los Angeles on Thursday.

Kuznetsov, bad breaks baffle Flyers in loss to Capitals

1 Comment

Here’s what went right for the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday: the Florida Panthers lost. Yep, that’s about it.

Otherwise, it was a pretty lousy time, as the Washington Capitals beat them at home 4-1 tonight.

Washington’s big names came to play here, highlighted by Evgeny Kuznetsov scoring two goals. T.J. Oshie and Nicklas Backstrom enjoyed one-goal, one-assist nights while Justin Williams and Alex Ovechkin both grabbed two assists.

The Capitals won their first game after a bye week (following two losses), improving their Metropolitan Division lead to five points and Presidents’ Trophy edge over Minnesota to three.

The Flyers fail to make up some ground in the Eastern Conference wild card race, staying at 63 standings points in 60 games played. The Panthers are tied with the Islanders and Bruins at 66 points, though Boston can change the picture ever so slightly against Anaheim (still in action) tonight.

The bottom line, again, is that the Flyers failed in a chance to get a little closer to that logjam for the last East spot.

Of course, plenty of Flyers fans will grumble about missed opportunities and iffy calls. Mike Milbury broke down the early setbacks that made life that much tougher for Philly:

Philly couldn’t overcome the Capitals and that bad luck, making their playoff hopes a little dimmer as the trade deadline approaches.

Oilers win on rare Russell goal, Panthers fall out of second wild card spot

Leave a comment

The Edmonton Oilers’ 4-3 win against the Florida Panthers might end up being costly if Andrej Sekera misses significant time.

But, hey, at least it was a win.

The two rising squads engaged in a back-and-forth game, with the Oilers winning in regulation. Maybe fittingly with Edmonton leaking defensemen lately: Kris Russell was the guy to score the game-winner, set up by Connor McDavid‘s blazing speed and a nice pass by Leon Draisaitl.

It was Russell’s first goal in more than a year.

The Oilers will remain in the second spot in the Pacific at the end of the night whether the Anaheim Ducks beat the Boston Bruins or not. Interestingly, this puts them in a reasonable position to catch the Sharks for first place in the division, too.

1. Sharks – 77 points in 60 games
2. Oilers – 74 points in 61 games
3. Ducks – 72 points in 61 games (in progress vs. Boston)

The Oilers likely had some fans out East tonight, as this loss pushes Florida down the wild card rankings. They’re actually out of the second spot thanks to tiebreakers.

Second wild card spot: Bruins – 66 points in 59 games, 30 wins and 28 ROW (in progress)

Islanders – 66 points in 59 games, 28 wins and 27 ROW
Panthers – 66 points in 59 games, 28 wins and 25 ROW

The Isles would move into the second spot if Boston loses in regulation, underscoring just how congested this situation is. But either way, the Panthers won’t be in the East’s top eight at the end of the night.

With Gibson out, Ducks recall interesting goalie: Enroth

TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 11: Jhonas Enroth #35 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Air Canada Centre on November 11, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. The Maple Leafs defeated the Flyers 6-3.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Getty
1 Comment

One player’s injury is another player’s opportunity.

Considering how much the Anaheim Ducks lean on John Gibson, it’s troubling that he’s day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

Even so, it’s interesting to note that such a situation prompted the team to recall Jhonas Enroth, who will back up Jonathan Bernier during Wednesday’s game against the Boston Bruins.

With the way Bernier’s been playing at times, it’s not impossible that Enroth could play as soon as tonight. But if he doesn’t you have to wonder if the Ducks might feel compelled to throw a start his way in the next week.

The trade deadline is coming, and while the goalie market is really cold, some of that slow movement likely comes from how cap-unfriendly netminders like Ben Bishop might be.

But what about Enroth? His cap hit is $750K this season, and while he thoroughly unimpressed Mike Babcock with rapid speed in Toronto, he was fantastic as a backup in Los Angeles last season and has been outstanding lately for the AHL’s San Diego Gulls.

All things considered, it’s almost a little surprising the Ducks aren’t throwing him right into the deep end tonight. If you’re a team with poor backup goaltending like the Edmonton Oilers or any number of other teams,* why wouldn’t you give the Ducks a call?

Maybe they need to see him in action in the NHL before doing so, making this an intriguing scenario to follow.

And, hey, maybe the Ducks themselves might decide that he’s a better option behind Gibson than Bernier. Stranger things have happened.

* – The Leafs might qualify, honestly … but again, Babs doesn’t seem to be an Enroth fan.