It was said during the Isles' 2-10-4 swoon through October and November, and it's still an issue: The Islanders haven't scored enough goals. It's a problem few thought this team would have this season, but their league-worst 77 goals and seven shutouts through 34 games have been the main shortcoming in a season of disappointment.
"Clearly, we feel like we have a lot more to offer than that," said Josh Bailey, who had no points in his first 11 games but has been far better since. He still has only three goals and seven assists. "It's on several guys here to step up and provide some more offense."
Jack Capuano has begged for scoring from players other than Matt Moulson, who is tied for 13th in the NHL with 16 goals; John Tavares, who has 11 goals and 27 points; and Michael Grabner, third on the team with 10 goals. Outside of the top two lines, there have been no regular contributions.
Capuano has shuffled his lines for Thursday's visit by the Flames, moving Kyle Okposo onto the right wing with Moulson and Tavares, putting Grabner with Bailey and Matt Martin, and Brian Rolston with Frans Nielsen and P.A. Parenteau. Without balance, opposing teams have been able to contain Tavares with a checking line and despite some decent forechecking from the bottom six forwards, there's been little to show for it.
Calgary's rare visit affords the Isles a chance to see old friend Blake Comeau, whom the Flames picked up off waivers on Nov. 25 after Comeau, a 24-goal scorer for the Islanders a season ago, had gone 16 games without a point to start the season.
It's a reminder that the Islanders, despite injury woes and zero depth on defense, were a tough out over the final 54 games last season because of their scoring punch. And how much that punch has been muffled so far this season.
Notes & quotes: Rolston (concussion) appears ready to return Thursday after missing five games. Jay Pandolfo (broken foot) and Steve Staios (concussion) also practiced but will not play. Micheal Haley (hand) will also be out.