Head coach Barry Trotz of the New York Islanders looks...

Head coach Barry Trotz of the New York Islanders looks on from the bench during the first period against the Boston Bruins at UBS Arena on Thursday, Dec. 16, 2021 in Elmont, New York. Credit: Jim McIsaac

It’s not only the Islanders’ record that tells the story of this rocky season, the first 30 games played out against a background of COVID-19 outbreaks and injuries, but also how the wins and losses have occurred.

The trends do not paint an encouraging picture for the Islanders’ decidedly uphill battle to get back into playoff contention. In short, they have not fared well against quality opponents or within the Metropolitan Division. And it’s those opponents whom the Islanders will see most during the rest of the season.

The Islanders are 2-5-1 within the division after Saturday’s 2-0 loss to the Capitals at UBS Arena, which snapped a three-game winning streak. Both divisional wins came at home against the seventh-place Devils.

But the Islanders are 0-4-0 against the four teams currently holding playoff spots in the Metropolitan Division — the Capitals, Rangers, Hurricanes and Penguins. The Islanders have been outscored 13-4 in those four games.

Overall, the Islanders have 18 divisional contests among their 52 remaining regular-season games, including three each against the Rangers and Capitals and two each against the Hurricanes and Penguins.

Against the teams holding playoff spots in the Eastern and Western Conferences, the Islanders are a miserable 2-10-2 and have been outscored 46-21.

It’s a significant statistic because more than half of the Islanders’ remaining games — 27 — are against those 16 teams currently in a playoff spot.

The Islanders, who made the playoffs in each of their first three seasons under Barry Trotz, including back-to-back appearances in the NHL semifinals the past two seasons, are 18 points out of a wild-card spot. They have played at least five games fewer than any Eastern Conference playoff contender.

But they have compiled these numbers while almost always playing at less than full strength. They

hope that trend is finally reversing.

Top-pair defenseman Ryan Pulock (long-term injured reserve/lower body), who also remains in COVID-19 protocol, is still a significant absence. Otherwise, the Islanders finally have a full complement of players.

They have yet to activate Kyle Palmieri (lower body) off injured reserve. He’s been practicing with the team since Jan. 3, and his absence the past two games was a coach’s lineup decision to play other forwards ahead of him.

The last-place Islanders (11-13-6) will open a home-and-home series on back-to-back nights against the Flyers (13-17-7) on Monday at UBS Arena, the first of three games in nine days between the divisional rivals.

The Islanders, who did not practice on Sunday, could have Trotz back behind the bench against the Flyers. He has missed the last two games while in COVID-19 protocol and also was absent for the previous game on New Year’s Day after his mother passed away.

More Islanders