The Islanders have hit a serious snag in their playoff hopes for this shortened season, and they have done so in an alarming way that's causing some concern among the masses.
A fifth straight loss has left fans scratching their heads and demanding answers while team stars such as John Tavares are smashing sticks and burying their heads in their hands in images that portray the hopelessness that has fallen on the team.
For the first time in several games the powerplay showed up, going a superb 4-for-5 with some great shots, nifty passing and quick decision making. Matt Moulson scored twice while Tavares and Frans Nielsen added goals of their own. For the first time in the month of February, we were seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
But something funny happened on the way to victory. The defensive woes crept in and less-than-stellar goaltending did the Isles in.
Rick DiPietro got the start over an exhausted Evgeni Nabokov and after initially looking solid and making saves he should, things quickly unraveled, culminating into the disaster that was the 3rd period. Jiri Tlusty (!) was the guy who wreaked havoc on the Isles in the final frame.
While the puck may have taken some odd bounces and deflections, it was not a very good showing by DiPietro. Reactions were off. Movements were sluggish. Anything that could be deemed routine was anything but. To make matters worse, while most teams really can't expect much more out of a back-up goalie than this, it gets even magnified with the Islanders considering the losing streak and the polarizing individual on the losing end of it.
There are certainly other plays that you can point to that helped do the Isles in, even from those who put in solid offensive performances. But at the end of the day, a losing streak of this kind in this short of a season is crippling. The lack of any semblance of order to play 5-on-5 is as well.
There’s a lot that ails this team right now, and for guys like Tavares and Travis Hamonic, the fear is good developmental years are being wasted. How long will this go on before the frustration truly sets in for one of the young studs?
Jack Capuano didn't sound too happy with his goaltending and I don't blame him. They'll have a rested Nabokov to turn to on Thursday however, and one can only hope offensively the Isles can show up, particularly on the powerplay again.