In what’s been an otherwise banner campaign, the New York Islanders have hit a rough patch.
Relatively speaking, that is.
On their way to the playoffs and one of just six teams in the NHL with 43 wins or more, the Islanders are in great shape overall and their “problems” — a three-game losing streak during which they’ve scored just three times — aren’t massive.
But they are a concern.
”I would hope, so a little bit,” coach Jack Capuano said when asked if his team was frustrated following Saturday’s 3-1 loss to Montreal, per the AP. ”You want a little fire in your belly. I sound like a broken record.
“For whatever reason, we are a little snake-bitten, and things aren’t finding its way like it used to.”
It’s not surprising to hear there’s a bit of frustration creeping in. The Isles haven’t lost more than three games in a row all season long, but will stare that number in the face tomorrow at the United Center, when they take on the suddenly-stingy Blackhawks, who have allowed just seven goals over their last five games.
New York is also just 4-5-2 over its last 11 while averaging 2.33 goals per game, down from its season average of 3.0 (third in the NHL), which has allowed the Rangers to jump ahead into first place in the Metropolitan Division. The Isles also sit just two points up on Pittsburgh for second — the Pens have two games in hand — and six up on the Capitals, who have one game in hand.
On Saturday, Capuano tried to shake things up offensively by making 21-year-old Ryan Strome — the club’s third-leading scorer — a healthy scratch for the first time this season. Strome, who was averaging 15:03 per night and one of just four Islanders to play the first 70 games of the season, had been slumping prior to the scratch, with no goals and just two points in six contests.
Strome isn’t the only young Islander that’s hit a wall offensively. Brock Nelson, who had 30 points in the first 46 games of the year, has just three goals and six assists in 24 games post All-Star break.
All that said, the Isles have some positives on the horizon, a big one being the schedule — they only play three times over the next eight days, which will afford the club some rest and a chance to get some practices in for Kyle Okposo, who is still working his way back into form after missing 22 games to a detached retina.