Islanders Edge: Struggles in Pittsburgh continue
photo credit: AP
If the New York Islanders don’t turn things around soon, memories of last season’s near downfall from January to March will come back into the minds of the blue and orange faithful. Last year Adam Pelech and Casey Cizikas, two monumental pieces, went down with injuries. This season, Isles captain Anders Lee went down and needed surgery. This came as he was on pace for thirty-six goals in an eighty-two-game season, which would have been his second-best season career-wise, sitting just behind his 2017-18 forty-goal campaign.
The Islanders have shown flashes of being a decent team without their captain, sometimes even very good. However, overall they have looked lost, which is normal when a monumental piece like number twenty-seven is out for an extended period of time. While you can’t help being depleted, you can give one-hundred percent effort night after night and be disciplined. In Pittsburgh on Monday night, the Islanders were slow, undisciplined, and overall terrible.
In his first game since January 26th, Ross Johnston took a penalty on his first shift on the ice. Brock Nelson created a shorthanded chance, the Isles got caught, and just 4:24 into the first, Anthony Angello notched his first goal of the season. John Marino (4) and Mike Matheson (4) recorded assists. 18:28 in, the Isles were caught once again, this time changing. Jared McCann took advantage and netted his eighth goal of the season. Marino (5) and Matheson (5) added to their assist total.
New York showed some life in the second but still didn’t look like themselves. 8:30 into the period, Jake Guentzel went to the penalty box for tripping Jordan Eberle. 1:02 into the power-play, Matt Martin scored his sixth goal of the season. Mathew Barzal (18) and Nick Leddy (24) picked up assists. Barzal is back to his point-producing ways and is officially out of his recent slump. He has three points in his last two games. Confidence-wise, this was also a massive goal for New York’s power-play, which has struggled mightily of late. The score was 2-1 in favor of Pittsburgh heading into the third, where the Islanders had chances but got nothing going. With their net empty, they displayed one of their worst efforts in a while. They were unable to do anything and lost the game 2-1.
A move or change needs to be made, but it all starts with effort. Trades can be made, but ultimately drive, and consistency on the ice wins hockey games.
The Isles look to get back on track against the Washington Capitals on Thursday evening. Puck drop is set for 7:00 PM Eastern time in front of the Isles faithful at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. If that can’t get them going, I don’t know what will. This is a critical game for New York to make up some ground in the standings.