It's been repeated dozens of times before: the Islanders defense is not as good as it needs to be, and the goaltending between the pipes is a major area of concern. But what hasn't been acknowledged is that the Isles offense, which has more or less been excused, needs improvement as well (Photo credit: THEFANBLOG/Flickr).
There's no denying that Matt Carkner's play has been less than superb, and that Matt Donovan has continued to make the expected rookie mistakes. Both of these players have led to Travis Hamonic and most notably Andrew MacDonald being forced into accepting more minutes and responsibility that is perhaps too much for this duo to handle on a nightly basis.
Add that Lubomir Visnovsky's veteran leadership has been missing for quite some time now and you have every hockey pundit saying "ya think?!" when asked if the Isles defense may be one of the reasons why they have slid in the standings.
But see if you can answer this: aside from John Tavares, Kyle Okposo, Thomas Vanek (while healthy) and Frans Nielsen, where has the offense come for this team?
The New York Islanders will look to win the second game of a back-to-back trip against the Philadelphia Flyers tonight at the Wells Fargo Center.
Kevin Poulin is expected to be back between the pipes, who made some tremendous acrobatic saves against the Pittsburgh Penguins last night despite a 4-3 loss on a goal that came from Sidney Crosby in the final minute of the third period.
Defensive breakdowns would end up costing the Isles a very valuable point, as they were just a little over a minute away from overtime.
The struggling New York Islanders (7-10-3) look to turn things around tonight with Evgeni Nabokov in goal against the visiting Detroit Red Wings (9-5-6). The Red Wings, now a new Eastern Conference opponent due to the alignment change, are facing the Isles for the first time this season after a 4-3 shootout loss last night to the Washington Capitals.
The Isles, who once sat second in the Metropolitan Division, currently sit in 6th, five points behind the second place Capitals and three points behind the third place Carolina Hurricanes.
An inability to hold gain leads and/or hold them has propelled the Islanders to the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings (12th in the East) and has allowed their division rivals to surpass them.
The New York Islanders return home to host the Philadelphia Flyers after playing the Pittsburgh Penguins on the road last night, which resulted in a 4-3 win.
The Flyers arrival on Coliseum ice tonight also means the return of former Islanders captain Mark Streit. The puck-moving defenseman was let go over the summer and signed with the Flyers as an unrestricted free agent. He currently has two assists and is a -4 on a struggling Flyers team that is 2-7-0, sitting in last place for the entire league.
On the other hand, the Islanders have continued to find ways to earn points and win hockey games, currently holding a 4-3-3 record on the year. They sit 7th in the Eastern Conference and are in second place in the Metropolitan Division.
The Islanders came into Pittsburgh Friday night for the first time since last season's playoffs, and just like that series, the Isles caused a lot of headaches for Sidney Crosby and company as they ended up pulling out a miraculous 4-3 win. New York earned their 2 points in over a week and did it in comeback fashion.
The Islanders began the first 39 minutes of the game against their divison foe Carolina Hurricanes, by playing weak, uninspired and just plain bad hockey. They ended up finishing the contest with some fight, but it ended up being too little too late as they fell to the 'Canes by a final of 4-3 in front of 13,008 fans at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, New York.
The New York Islanders returned home after a disappointing road trip, losing back-to-back games to the Chicago Blackhawks and Nashville Predators. But their losing ways would follow them back home as they fell 4-3 to the Buffalo Sabres after being defeated in the shootout.
The first period opened with the Isles controlling the play for the entire period. Although both teams had plenty of shots, the Isles led the way with a 16-11 advantage. Evgeni Nabokov had to make some key saves, but the fore-check that the Isles put on in the offensive zone eventually led to a goal from Frans Nielsen.
The Danish center-man toe dragged the puck in the high slot and let go of a wicked wrister that beat Ryan Miller just over his glove and inside the far post. The assists went to Pierre-Marc Bouchard, his first as an Islanders forward, and Josh Bailey.