The Islanders latest defeat—a 3-2 loss to the Flyers—offered very little different from the rest of the team’s middling losses over the past six weeks.
The myriad of unsightly streaks and slumps continued. 17 losses in the past 18 games. 18 losses in the past 19 contests against the Flyers. Eleven straight games without a power-play goal. An abysmal 7,773 in attendance, the season’s lowest crowd and the worst since the 2004-05 lockout.
But the team’s latest defeat seems to have brought an undercurrent of concern to the surface. With the team’s battle level on the ice, their attitude towards losing, and their willingness to evoke change.
“It’s like a country club in here,” one player said, baffled by the team’s inability to see the big picture.
Trailing by a goal in the third period, the Islanders tallied two goals within 36 seconds, first on a deflection by Jon Sim at 5:12 then a wrister from Frans Nielsen less than a minute later.
But with a one-goal lead to protect, the Islanders surrendered two straight to the Flyers.
Winger Andreas Nodl scooped up a deflected shot for the equalizer on the power play at 11:34 and Danny Briere added the game-winner less than three minutes later.
“If anyone’s going to question our hard work, they’re idiots,” defenseman James Wisniewski said. “We’re working hard out there, we’re just not getting bounces.”
Particularly absent are the bounces on the power play, where the Islanders have gone 0-for-36 over the last 11 games—one game shy of the franchise record for consecutive games without a power-play goal (12 games, 1972-73).
The team didn’t register a single shot on their first-period power-play attempt and although they generated more on their next three, still failed to convert.
The last of their four attempts came with less than five minutes to play and the chance to tie the game. Still no luck.
“There’s no second effort, there’s no second chances. When you’re a one-and-out team, you’re lucky to score a goal,” said Wisniewski. “Every time we get a good shot or good chance, we lose the one-on-battle on the wall or I make a bad pass from up top and they dump it down the ice.”
Wisniewski even suggested it may take divine intervention to change their luck.
"God has to do something," he said. "I don't know."
The team’s inability to score with the man-advantage seems to coincide with the overall ability to overcome the bad breaks that have haunted the team recently.
“Bounces you create,” said goaltender Dwayne Roloson. “If you’re going to work, you’re going to get those bounces. If we’re going to sit back and let the play come to us, other teams are going to get those bounces.”
For an Islanders bunch that thrived last year with the self-imposed identity of a hard-working, gritty squad, the team seems to be struggling to re-establish that reputation.
“At times,” Matt Martin said when asked if the team’s effort level is there. “but other times it doesn’t seem like we want the puck as bad as the other team does. We seem to be missing some of that urgency.”
Martin, who leads the team with 85 hits in 17 games, wants that to change.
“Everyone’s pissed off in here. Everyone hates losing. But we say we’re going to do better, we say we’re going to do things differently, but it never seems to happen,” he said. “Enough talking. It’s time to take action.”
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