The New York Islanders are 2-8-0 in their last 10 games, and it’s not hard to figure why. With 38 goals surrendered during that stretch, their goals-against average has crept up to 3.33, third highest in the NHL.
Blame for all those goals allowed has been parceled out differently depending who you ask. Some look to the goaltending of Kevin Poulin, the inexperienced 23-year-old who was forced into regular starting duties after veteran Evgeni Nabokov went on injured reserve. (Before he was hurt, Nabokov wasn’t exactly rock solid, and as an extension general manager Garth Snow has been blamed for not addressing the most important position in hockey.)
Others don’t so much blame Poulin, who was actually playing quite well earlier this month. They blame the Isles’ defense for breaking down, running around and/or failing to clear rebounds after the first save is made.
Here’s an example from Saturday’s 5-2 loss to Philadelphia that contains all three of the above elements:
Whoever’s to blame — we can’t forget head coach Jack Capuano, who’s received his share of criticism — the losing the needs to stop. Last place in the Metropolitan Division, the Isles (8-13-3) have fallen five points back of the third-place Rangers in the division and nine points back of the second wild card spot in the conference. Only the Buffalo Sabres have fewer regulation/overtime wins (2) than the Isles (5).
New York hosts Winnipeg tonight in the first of a three-game home stand that also includes Detroit (Friday) and Washington (Saturday).
Brian Campbell doesn’t score as many points as he used to, but he came up with a huge goal against the Red Wings on Sunday afternoon.
With the game tied, 1-1, in overtime, Campbell skated into the slot and beat Petr Mrazek with a perfect wrister to end the game.
It was also a pretty nice passing play between Jussi Jokinen, Jonathan Huberdeau and Campbell.
Dylan Larkin opened the scoring in the second period before Reilly Smith leveled the score with just over five minutes remaining.
The Wings have blown a lead in three straight games.
Detroit was up 2-0 and 3-2 in their last game, against Edmonton, before they finally closed the game out with an overtime goal by Niklas Kronwall.
They weren’t so fortunate against the Bruins on Wednesday, as they lost 3-2 in OT after leading 2-1 with under two minutes remaining in regulation.
This was the first meeting of the season between Detroit and Florida, but they’ll see each other three times between Feb. 4 and Mar. 19.
You can’t blame Mike Babcock for siding with the relatively unknown when the other option is Jonathan Bernier, a goalie who’s 0-8-1 so far in 2015-16.
With that in mind, meet Garret Sparks, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ expected starter for Monday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers.
Sparks was a seventh-round pick (190th overall) in 2011, a guy who was off to a great start in the AHL. That much wasn’t lost on Babcock.
Let’s face it, though; this is as much about the Leafs’ other two goalies as it is about Sparks (whose name inspired a very obscure reference in this post’s headline).
In Bernier’s case, there’s an “enough’s enough” feel:
Meanwhile, James Reimer‘s not quite healthy enough to play yet, so the window of opportunity is open for Sparks … a little bit.
Sparks will get a chance to make an impression, even if it’s just a small one.
So far, the 2015-16 crop of rookies is living up to the hype, if not exceeding it. Connor McDavid‘s unfortunate injury hasn’t even derailed this year’s crop.
The Detroit Red Wings are watching their own blue chip blossom, as Dylan Larkin is making an instant impact.
No. 71 scored his 10th goal of the season against the Florida Panthers on Sunday, fattening his rookie goals lead.
He still needs five points to match rookie points leader Artemi Panarin, though.
There’s one thing we seem to know about Carey Price‘s injury situation: he first got hurt stepping on a puck on Oct. 29, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.
Contrary to earlier reports about him missing about a month, it sounds like his window of recovery is still up in the air (which, to be fair, could mean that he’ll still miss about a month when it’s all said and done).
ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that Price underwent testing with Montreal’s team doctor on Saturday and is expected to go through more; we may not know more about his expected injury timeline until early this coming week.
So, basically, Price’s situation is fuzzier than his mustache right now.
Leg injuries can be tricky anyway, so we shouldn’t be too surprised that there are mixed signals regarding Price, and this may remain a fluid situation for some time.
(But we’ll hopefully know more soon enough.)