Grounded Islanders look to take off against Dustin Byfuglien and the Jets

On the day that the Islanders revealed their new threads for the Stadium Series game at Yankee Stadium, they will look to get back to their winning ways in front of their home crowd. The New York Islanders will be taking on the Winnipeg Jets, who are 5-3-2 in their last 10 games. On the other side of that, is the struggling Isles who has won just 2 of their last 10 contests. They have only walked away with 4 of 24 potential points. These losing ways have the Isles resting rather uncomfortably in the basement of the Metropolitan Division with a measly 19 points.

The Islanders have been a streaky team in recent years and they have seen seasons lost because of these extended losing streaks. With the talent on the roster, there is absolutely no excuse to be playing as poorly as they are. The team has some built in excuses to lean against, but the fans are losing patience as they see their team losing on almost a nightly basis.

The team has been bitten by the injury bug and hard. As thin as they are at defense, their goalie situation is not much better. Poulin is the lead dog in net but with not much behind him in case of injury. Isles’ defensemen Andrew MacDonald and Thomas Hickey returned to practice Tuesday but their status for Wednesday’s match up is uncertain. MacDonald left practice Monday after taking a puck near his shoulder. Hickey missed practice with an injury which occurred when he was blocking a shot on Saturday. Of course, Evgeni Nabokov, Lubomir Visnovsky and Brian Strait are on injured reserve.

Lost in all of this losing is how torridly hot Casey Cizikas has been. He has had 3 goals and 2 assists in a 5 game point streak. Unfortunately for the Isles, his offensive output continues to not be enough. They will need some defensive tightening in order to slow down Dustin Byfuglien. The former Stanley Cup champion has 6 goals and 6 assists in a 10 game stretch. His offensive production has helped the team go 5-3-2 in their last 10, boosting their record to 11-11-4.

Safe in the beginning of the year from the team’s surprising playoff appearance, Jack Capuano is now back in the hot seat. There continues to be the conversation of whether he has lost the team or not. Interestingly enough, the Islanders seem to be lost when the going gets tough. With the heart and passion the Isles played with during the Penguins 2013 playoff series, the late game collapses seemed to be a feature of the past.

That was proved to be untrue and the Islanders are still continuing to be stung late in games, most notably, falling to the Kings after blowing a 2 goal lead in the third period. With a loss tonight, the frustrated Garth Snow may be looking to make a change at the helm of his sinking team. Snow has indicated that he is not afraid to shake the team up when he traded for Thomas Vanek in the midst of the Isles’ earlier struggles. The rebuild was said to be over and this 2-8-0 stretch has to have Charles Wang and Garth Snow ready to explode.

If the Islanders plan to make any run towards another playoff berth, they will need to weather this injury storm and get back to the collecting points. The Nassau Coliseum should be a hot crowd tonight with Thanksgiving tomorrow. The team hopes to give them something to cheer about.

-Steve Giangaspro

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