The New York Islanders went into last night’s home game looking to prove Tuesday’s 6-1 loss to Tampa Bay wasn’t really who they were.
Alas, it’s hard to say they succeeded, after a 3-2 shootout defeat in which they were outshot 42-27 by the visitors from Philadelphia. With the loss, the Isles fell to 4-6-1 on the season, with possession stats that rank among the worst in the NHL.
What’s the biggest concern for head coach Jack Capuano?
It’s how to replace the offense that Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielsen, and Matt Martin took when they left in free agency
“Where are we going to get point production?” Capuano asked reporters. “One hundred and thirty-four points out of our lineup that we lost. Now we have to find a way. Like everything gets magnified, I get it. You guys are talking about the (losses) lately…but we have to find a way to get some balanced offense in our hockey team.”
The hope was that free-agent signing Andrew Ladd would help, along with youngsters like Ryan Strome, Mathew Barzal, and possibly even Michael Dal Colle or Josh Ho-Sang.
That was the hope. Now here’s the reality:
— Ladd has just one assist in 11 games, which sure isn’t what the Isles were banking on when they gave the 30-year-old winger a seven-year, $38.5 million contract on July 1.
— As for the youngsters, Strome has a respectable two goals and three assists, but Barzal has only dressed for two games, while Dal Colle and Ho-Sang are both in the AHL.
— John Tavares leads the Isles with five goals, which is predictable. Dennis Seidenberg, a veteran defenseman they signed on the cheap, is second with four. Great for Seidenberg, but probably not sustainable.
— Let’s forget the offense for a moment, because the Isles are tied for 20th in goals-against (3.00), and that may actually be their biggest issue. Neither Thomas Greiss (2-3-0, .908) nor Jaroslav Halak (2-3-1, .908) have been particularly good in net, which isn’t great for GM Garth Snow, who’s trying to trade the latter.
— The Isles are surrendering 31.8 shots per game. That’s the ninth-highest total in the league, and without good goaltending, it’s no recipe for success.
The good news is that the Isles host Edmonton Saturday and Vancouver Monday, and those are both winnable games, especially the second one.
But then comes a very tough stretch in their schedule, including one trip to Florida and another to California:
Where they’ll be after those nine games remains to be seen. But they’re already in a hole, so the desperation factor better be high.