Andrew Ladd’s first 33 Islanders games haven’t gone as planned. That’s hardly news.
But there are no do-overs in the NHL. Ladd is an Islander to stay and, with six more seasons beyond this one, the 30-year-old is not letting frustration get the best of him during what can only be described as a disappointing start to his Isles career.
“I don’t think it has anything to do with this place,” Ladd said. “As hockey players, we have short-term memory and you don’t have time to dwell on anything that’s going on. It’s a reset every day. It’s a fine line between grinding yourself and keeping your confidence, too. It’s a bit of a balancing act.”
Lest you think that Ladd’s slow start has hurt his relationship with his teammates, the Islanders’ captain would like a word.
“It’s hard to pinpoint on Andrew — maybe the way the production’s gone, but we’re all going through that,” John Tava res said. “To label it on him is difficult to do. He’s a guy we signed to play a big role on our team and in the locker room, so there’s going to be a lot of focus on that. He’s had a great attitude, working hard every day. He’s been awesome in the room. The guys really enjoy being around him and feed off his energy and his positivity. It’s obviously not easy when things aren’t going well, but you just work your way through it and trust your body of work over your career, and eventually things start to come around.”
Ladd scored his fifth goal of the season in Friday’s 5-1 win over the Sabres. It was his second goal in the last eight games with Ladd skating on a line with Alan Quine and Jason Chimera. Jack Capuano hasn’t changed his lines much in the past week, primarily since Casey Cizikas went down with an upper-body injury that likely will keep him out through this week.
Ladd appreciates the continuity, even if playing a third-line role isn’t necessarily what he’s being paid $5.5 million per year to do.
“Quiner’s underrated in my opinion in what he does. He’s more skilled than people realize,” Ladd said. “And Chimmer with his speed, you know he’s getting up ice and we can get the puck up and get on the forecheck.”
Ladd’s underlying numbers, like those of nearly everyone else on the team, have been subpar. His shots for / against percentage is close to 40 percent with Quine and Chimera, as opposed to near 48 percent with Tavares, who was Ladd’s linemate the first two weeks of the season.
Rather than detail what’s going on with his teammate, Tavares put the burden on himself for the 13-14-6 record that the Isles will bring into Tuesday night’s game against the Capitals.
“I think if you ask everybody in this room, everyone’s disappointed individually,” Tavares said. “For myself, I can certainly say I haven’t been at a consistent level, the standards I have for myself, and I’ve always tried to improve on those. It’s been really up and down for our team, and it starts to reflect on guys individually.
“I want to step up and be a difference-maker in key situations and I haven’t as much as I would have liked. I understand some of those things. We try to work our way out of this as a group, and once we start having more team success, all that other stuff starts to follow.”