During any sports season ever, even the best of the best teams faced a put up or shut up situation, the Islanders were faced with a chance to salvage the series with the Capitals, they were almost as flat as that famous game 7 that shut down the old coliseum. The Islanders put up just 18 shots on goal and they had maybe 2 high danger chances from Palmieri and Bailey but other than that they looked just feutille. It is not just about tonight’s matchup, it's been a string of games since just around the trade deadline, this is so eerily similar to the end of the year last year before COVID-19. I cannot understand what is causing this from the Islanders, they picked up 3 pieces at the deadline which is something that should energize a team not something that would make a team go flatter than leftover soda. The Islanders have not generated any offense scoring just 3 goals in the entire 3 game series with all of them coming in just one of the games. The Islanders are just 5 points ahead of the Rangers for the final playoff spot with one game at hand even further magnifying the next 2 games between the 2. These are absolutely crucial moments for the Islanders who are desperate for points at this point. They have played well against the Rangers this year but the 2 times they had lost to them have been in equally disheartening fashion. The Islanders have so many areas of their game that need improvement with one of them being just their effort as a whole. If this team wants to go somewhere in the playoffs they have to get going and fast. If the Islanders can win 5 of their last 7 games they would be in a good position but they have to bear down. Anything can happen in the playoffs so at this point it's just about getting in. The Islanders are an all in team having traded their 1st round pick in 2 consecutive years in hopes of chasing down a stanley cup. This is a win now team and they have to do well… do that. They have to win now. Their remaining schedule favors them but at the end of the day you have to execute and win the games, even the Buffalo Sabres have become a much tougher opponent since Don Granato took over, the Islanders must take care of business and lock down a playoff spot in the East Division. Make no mistake about it the Islanders have the talent but they haven't shown it lately which is concerning to say the least.
3 changes I want to see made:
The first line:The Islanders first line has gone ice cold since they lost their captain Anders Lee to injury earlier on in the season, with that and the simple fact that Anders Lee is an irreplaceable player the Islanders have to find another option that works. There are 2 real potential options I would love to see coach Trotz use are Palmieri-Barzal-Eberle and Wahlstrom - Barzal - Beauvillier. While these 2 options are clesche for Islanders fans I really think throwing a shooter on the line with a puck mover like Mathew Barzal could really help the Islanders excel offensively.
The Powerplay: The Islanders power play has killed their momentum in certain games and it could have come up huge to tie the game for New York when they were trailing Wasington by one. The powerplay has been an issue for multiple years for the Islanders and they have to force more pressure on the opposition to try and force the penalty killers to move more generating chances and mistakes for the Islanders to try and convert on their powerplay. The Islanders must figure their power play if they want to go far and make a deep playoff run this year. They are operating at 18.1% or 25th in the league.
The team’s overall play: The Islanders have been playing low energy and they definitely did not bring their best effort in any of their past few games. The Islanders need their 4th line to re-invigorate themselves and the energy they create will surely pass on to the rest of the team. The Islanders are desperately in need of somebody to get on a hot streak even if it's just one of their scorers they need somebody to start scoring with regularity. Whether it's Beauvillier,Eberle,or Pageau they need one of their traditional “streaky” scorers to get on a streak. They are now in actual danger of falling out of a playoff spot and deservingly so. They truly have gotten away from the style of play that got them this far in the first place. Make no mistake about it, the Islanders could break out at any time but they need to fix the small aspects of their game. They need to get back to their roots which has gotten them so much farther than we could have ever even dreamed.
To recap: The Islanders find themselves in a tough spot, with just 7 games to play in the regular season they are just 5 points up with a game at hand on the New York Rangers. They have not played well recently but there is still reason for hope. The Islanders are a resilient team and we as fans know these final 7 games will be epic. Overall The Islanders are too talented of a team with too talented of a coach to continue playing this bad. Once we find a lineup that truly works I feel like this team has a run in them.
Remaining Schedule: 4/29 @ NYR, 5/1 vs. NYR, 5/3 @ BUF, 5/4 @ BUF, 5/6 vs. NJD, 5/8 vs. NJD, 5/10 @ BOS