While it’s far too early to panic, there is some concern on Long Island about how the local hockey team has responded to losing Kyle Okposo.
After winning their first game in the sans-Okposo era — a 4-1 victory over the Rangers — the Isles have dropped three straight and only mustered five goals over that stretch, possibly a reflection of the offense lost with Okposo, the club’s second-leading scorer (44 points in 46 games this year.)
“We certainly miss Kyle out there,” captain John Tavares said after Tuesday’s 4-2 loss to Florida, per the New York Daily News.
Okposo, who’s out 6-8 weeks with a torn retina, doesn’t project to be back ’til mid-March at the earliest, meaning he could miss up to — or more than — 25 games (the Isles have a pretty busy February, with 15 games in 25 days.) It’ll be curious to see how the club responds in his absence; there are some compacted parts of the schedule coming up, including a five-games-in-eight-nights stretch at the end of this month and another where the Isles play six out of nine on the road in March.
The trickle-down effect with Okposo is noticeable. He and Tavares have been such a dynamic duo on the club’s top line for several seasons now, so there’s some immediate production lost there. That in turn puts pressure on secondary scorers, and one of the club’s best from earlier this season, Brock Nelson, has hit the wall lately with just four points in his last 17 contests.
According to head coach Jack Capuano, someone is going to need to fill the Okposo void.
“We lost a pretty good player, as you know,” he explained. “Every team goes through injuries and you really can’t make any excuses.
“You’ve got to find a way to pick your game up.”