ANAHEIM, Calif. - The Islanders began to tweak their roster yesterday, placing Pierre-Marc Bouchard on waivers to clear a spot for Ryan Strome.
General manager Garth Snow hadn't considered such a move until recently. He'd been looking for solutions to the team's goaltending and defensive woes when his forwards suddenly stopped scoring, a problem the Islanders never thought they would have with their current group.
That even goes for the top line of Thomas Vanek, John Tavares and Kyle Okposo, which had been doing the bulk of the goal-scoring of late. The Islanders have only 14 goals during the nine-game winless streak (0-7-2) they carried into Monday night's game against the Ducks, and Vanek, Tavares and Okposo have seven of those.
But there's still room for improvement. Vanek had a couple of good chances around the Kings' net Saturday but didn't get a shot off. Then he got the puck from Tavares, alone in the slot, but tried a behind-the-back pass that went awry.
"When things are going well, sometimes you get a pass in your skates and it goes right to your tape. That's not happening now," Vanek said. "When I talk with those two guys, right now, it's about simplicity. I had some good chances the other night with the puck on my stick and I looked for Kyle, and we ended up with nothing. I need to shoot those."
Jack Capuano decided not to break up that top line, given that it still is generating opportunities -- something he can't say for all his other lines. The droughts for Michael Grabner (no goals in 26 games) and Josh Bailey (no goals in 19) continued into Monday night.
Capuano started the game with Brock Nelson and Bailey flanking Frans Nielsen. Grabner and Cal Clutterbuck were with Peter Regin, who went back into the lineup to take Bouchard's spot.
The Isles' power play also has hit the skids. The penalty kill has been harped upon again and again as a huge failing -- still in the basement of the league at 71.6 percent success (68-for-95) overall and 69.2 percent (36-for-52) on the road -- but the power play has been equally bad of late.
The Isles' power play entered Monday night tied for 20th overall at 15.8 percent (16-for-101) and 28th on the road at 9.3 percent (4-for-43).
Vanek has assumed Matt Moulson's spot in front of the opposing net with the first power-play unit, but too many shot opportunities have been given up for extra passes as the power play has gone 2-for-27 during the winless streak.
"We have a lot of skill out there and we have to start getting some shots," Vanek said. "We get a couple shots and get our chances from that. Nice plays will open up from there."
That has been Capuano's mantra all through the 2-12-2 skid that had the Islanders 10 points out of a playoff spot in the Metro Division entering Monday night's game against the top team in the Pacific Division. The Ducks hadn't lost in regulation at home (10-0-2).
"We need to score some goals, but we can't let the frustration take over," Capuano said. "Win your shift and we try to build from there."