SAN JOSE, Calif. - The Islanders came out to the West Coast on a stumble, having lost their past two games. They're dealing with a two-week streak of not playing their best after a good start to the season.
The above sentence applies to both this season and last season, in an unusual coincidence. A year ago last week, the Islanders were shelled, 6-0, in Denver by the Avalanche, their second straight loss and fourth in six games. They were 6-4-0, and the strong start they engineered in 2014-15 threatened to turn into yet another disappointing season.
They actually lost to the Sharks, 3-1, though their game improved from what it was two days earlier. That was followed by a three-day break in Southern California, where general manager Garth Snow surprised his players by having them work out on the beach at 8 a.m. on one of those days off.
It was not a welcome surprise, but the Islanders took the impromptu beach workout as a reminder that they needed to stick together to get themselves righted. Perhaps that wasn't the sole reason, but the Islanders did kick off a five-game winning streak in Anaheim on their way to a 101-point season, their best in 30 years.
They come to California this year at another early-season crossroads, having gone 1-3-2 in their last six games after Sunday's 2-1 loss to the Bruins. At 7-5-3, it is an eerily similar situation to last November, though there likely isn't enough time for beach push-ups with three games in four nights, beginning Tuesday night against the Sharks here.
"I feel like we're right there," Johnny Boychuk said after Sunday's loss left the Islanders with nine goals in their last six games. They gave up only 14 goals in the six games (one empty-netter), so they hardly have been outplayed by a wide margin during their slump.
"You get blown out and you feel like there's a lot you need to fix," Boychuk said. "One-goal games, you're close. We had a lot of chances in this one."
Jack Capuano and Snow have made a few moves this past week to jolt the team, starting with Ryan Strome's demotion to Bridgeport on Friday, followed by Josh Bailey's benching on Sunday.
Strome did not rejoin the Islanders on this three-game trip, so the group that pumped 37 shots on Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask on Sunday likely will be the group that tries to kick-start the offense Tuesday night.
But in his six seasons as coach, Capuano has maintained that the accountability lies in the room, between the players.
"We talk about it a lot -- they maybe weren't able to do that in the past, be tough on each other," Capuano said. "That's what we try to do, get them to hold each other to a higher standard."
The first multi-city road trip of the season could give them a little boost in that direction.
"Maybe it's a good time to get away," Travis Hamonic said. "It worked last year."
Notes & quotes: Defenseman Adam Pelech was called up from Bridgeport to join the team on the trip. Pelech, 21, was the Isles' third-round pick in 2012 and has two goals and two assists in 14 games with the Sound Tigers. He's a lefthanded shot, so he might take Brian Strait's spot in the lineup Tuesday night.