Defensively challenged Isles host Winnipeg tonight

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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).