After a week in western Canada and 3 days off, the Islanders returned home on Friday night to begin a 4 game home stand welcoming the San Jose Sharks to Nassau Coliseum. They defeated the Sharks in December in San Jose but couldn’t complete the season series sweep on home ice.
The New York Islanders square off with the Buffalo Sabres in a battle of last place teams Saturday night at the Nassau Coliseum as the Islanders try to rebound from their latest home ice defeat, 4 to 3 to the San Jose Sharks. The Islanders own the worst record on home ice this year, a far cry from the days of “Fort Neverlose.” (Photo credit: paul.hadsall/flickr)
Standing in their way are the Buffalo Sabres whose 46 points (19-39-8 record) have it comfortably “ahead” of the 29th place Edmonton Oilers in the race for worst record overall in the NHL and coveted top position in June’s draft lottery.
It's been difficult to find any glimmer of hope when it comes to hockey these days. The NHL recently stated that both the players union and the owners are "taking a step back from negotiations" after three straight days of talking. But all this means to the common hockey fan is one thing: more waiting. (Photo Credit: hockeymedia/Flickr)
Impatiently waiting to hear when the 2013 season will actually start (if it ever does) as the October 11th season opener for several teams inches closer to cancellation. The Islanders are still set to take on the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday, October 12th before taking the ice for their home opener against the Philadelphia Flyers the following night, Saturday, October 13th. But let's face it. Those games aren't happening.
In fact, this is one blogger who will be shocked if any hockey fan gets to chant their usual "Hoctober" rally cry for the first puck drop of the year. (But hey, Gretzky thinks that there will be hockey by January! Woop-de-doo!)
But some news leaked today that could spark some interest for Islanders fans. It might not exactly be the glimmer of hope that everyone is waiting for, but it is definitely news worth looking at.
Many were immediately calling for the removal of head coach Jack Capuano at the start of the season once the New York Islanders' record began to slip from 3-1 to way below .500. However, there were some, like myself, who argued that it was premature to blame the coaching staff for the poor start due to the fact that the roster from last season hadn't changed much and for the other simple fact - the season was still young. (Photo Credit: Robert Kowal/Flickr)
Since then, the Islanders have managed to be a consistent below .500 team for the year. They have come close on a few occasions from jumping over the hurdle but would then find a way to take two steps back after taking one step forward. This past week has been the most disheartening of the year for Isles fans in relation to how the team has continued to perform. Not only have they lost games, but they have done it with such depression that even the U.S. economy cringed.
Three of the last eight games saw the Islanders either blow a three-goal lead or lose the game in the final few minutes of the third period. It started when the Islanders went into the second period against the Washington Capitals with a 2-0 lead on February 28th. The Caps would score two goals in the final three minutes of the game and then go on to have Alexander Ovechkin score the early game winning goal in the extra frame. The Islanders also had a 1-0 lead against the New Jersey Devils just this past Saturday, only to see their opponent score two goals just 14 seconds apart in the final two minutes of the hockey game. And most recently, the Islanders blew a 4-1 lead last night against the Caps to lose 5-4 in the shootout.
The Islanders find themselves eight points out of the playoffs again after losing to the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night. The loss, combined with almost every other team the Isles are fighting with having gained two points in the same night, put them back to the eight point differential. Just another dagger in the heart of Islanders fans that are hopeful of a late season push into the playoffs.
Although there is plenty of time between now and the end of the season, each win is crucial and each loss can be detrimental to their chances of capturing the eighth seed in the East. As I look at the standings and contemplate who needs to win and who needs to lose (just for fun, because my original prediction of the Isles falling to 10th or 11th in the East still stands), I can't help but think back to Easter of 2007.