Perhaps the Islanders are searching for significance in all the wrong places. Maybe their continued dependence on roster turnover -- and the future of unproven youth -- is a fig leaf to cover thin hopes.
Tuesday night's 6-0 loss to the Minnesota Wild certainly didn't further the plot of a 26-35-9 season much.
Or maybe the Islanders have little choice, given debilitating losses such as all-star John Tavares to a knee injury. And, possibly Tuesday night's debut of the season's ninth rookie, defenseman Kevin Czuczman, can take them toward the kind of optimism illustrated by Czuczman's favorite book.
The book is "Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable." It was written by trainer Tim Grover, who has worked with such basketball luminaries as Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade.
For now, though, such belief seems more hokey than hockey. Czuczman is just a week out of Lake Superior State University. He joins Johan Sundstrom, who played his first NHL game Friday, and first-year men Calvin de Haan, Matt Donovan, Mike Halmo, Anders Lee, Brock Nelson, Anders Nilsson and Ryan Strome.
Of those fellows, Lee's presence was the most obvious Tuesday night. Playing on a line with Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen, Lee had five good whacks at a possible goal, all on the doorstep of the Minnesota goal. But without success.
Nilsson, starting a second straight game in goal, was beaten six times on 22 shots; Ilya Bryzgalov turned away all 36 Islanders shots.
Just to add to the sense of being on the outside looking in, the Isles were victimized by two goals from Matt Moulson, who had been among their fans' and teammates' favorites before being traded in October. Even a video review went against the Isles, when Justin Fontaine apparently hit the post midway through the third, but a second look confirmed the score.
So while Minnesota (36-23-10) remains in the playoff mix, Islanders coach Jack Capuano could only point to "some pretty good chances. But we started playing as individuals and we didn't manage the puck very well. Look, where we are with injuries, nothing's going to come easy for us."
Czuczman, who had 20 minutes of ice time, admitted to "obviously nerves," and learning right away "just how fast guys come at you. My job's going to be that adjustment, catching up to the speed, but I'm confident in my skating ability and feel I can play at this level."
With the broken hand Brian Strait suffered in the second period, Czuczman is guaranteed plenty of action, and Capuano judged that Czuczman "handled himself pretty well for his first game. I like the way he skates. And I think there's a little bit more offense in his game as he gets comfortable."
Meanwhile, the best approach may be what Czuczman -- who was teamed with the team's steadiest defenseman, Travis Hamonic -- expressed in a profile for his college team, that his only fear is "regret."
And his favorite superhero is Batman. Quick, Robin, to the Bat Cave. For more reinforcements.