The Islanders had Wednesday off in Toronto. Perhaps it was time spent by some players to stop thinking about hockey for a few hours. Perhaps others replayed the latest ugly performance, a 5-2 loss to the Leafs on Tuesday that marked the ninth time in the last 15 games the Isles have allowed at least four goals.
The depleted defensive corps had an especially rough go on Tuesday, with too much space given to Leafs forwards as they carried the puck into the Islanders zone and too little ability to get those same forwards out of Kevin Poulin's face.
"It's not like we make a ton of mistakes," Travis Hamonic said on Tuesday night, "but it seems like every one of 'em costs us."
Islanders general manager Garth Snow has had his usual trade discussions with his fellow GMs around the league, but there aren't many reasonable prices for usable defensemen. Having already surrendered next June's first-round pick (provided it is not a top-10 selection; in that case, the Islanders can defer it to 2015) in the deal that brought in Thomas Vanek, the Islanders don't have any big chips to offer for a defenseman who might be available.
So this group is it, for now, the same way Poulin and recent call-up Anders Nilsson are the goaltending tandem for now, with Evgeni Nabokov out until at least mid-December with a groin injury.
The Islanders held a brief players-only meeting after Tuesday's loss, the second such closed-door session in two weeks, having also held one after a similarly unpleasant loss in Columbus.
"We'll keep all that stuff in here," Hamonic said. "But there isn't much more left to be said."
What fueled last season's turnaround, which began around the same time in the schedule as where the Isles are now, was a group of young players finally connecting belief in and execution of their system with winning. A 9-11-2 team that had allowed four or more goals in half their games finished the shortened season on a 15-6-5 run, playing a tight-knit, aggressive style.
These Islanders are 8-11-3, with 60 games to go. They've given up too many goals and seemingly forgotten what got them noticed last season.
"We know what we have in here," Matt Martin said. "We know what we have and what we need to do. The inconsistency is just unbelievable."