What's Happened to the Islanders?
by: Patrick Hickey, Jr. | Senior Writer - NY Sports Day | Friday, January 5, 2007

Up until December 26, the Islanders were one of the hottest teams in the NHL, putting together a 19-13-3 record and were sitting on consecutive shutout wins that seemed to revive not only their fan base, but seemed to start to change the way the rest of the league looked at them.

In a matter of four games, the Islanders have not only found themselves out of the playoff picture, but now find themselves struggling for offense from everyone except Jason Blake, who has scored two of the team’s three goals over the past four games. While fans are concerned about the team’s lack of offense, Islanders head coach Ted Nolan believes the problem lies elsewhere.

“Our problem is a whole host of things. It's not scoring goals, it's all the stuff leading up to scoring goals,” said Nolan. “We need to be more determined, grittier and compete harder. Our shifts need to be shorter. When things aren't going well people want to stay out there a little longer and do more. Sometimes less is more. We're not doing the simple things that win hockey games.”

Truth be told, things aren’t as bad as many Isles fans think. On a positive note, despite the fact that the team has been struggling offensively, they have been getting amazing goaltending from Rick Dipietro over this recent stretch. Mike Dunham was also solid in net against the Flyers on Tuesday, making 32 saves, proving the team’s recent losing streak is of a totally different color than the one they went on in the beginning of the season, giving up 12 goals in their first three games.

With the goaltending playing as well as is, Islanders leading goal scorer Jason Blake feels it’s time the Isles start capitalizing.

“Our goalies are playing great from the drop of the puck,” said Blake on the team’s official website. “We need to carry that over to our game, especially at home, with the crowd behind us. These are points we need to have and we’re still searching to get some.”

After four tough losses, the Islanders now find themselves in tenth place in the conference, but have two games in hand on the Senators, Rangers, and Maple Leafs who are currently nestled in the last three playoff spots. Despite that, Nolan insists his team is just suffering from a run of bad luck and needs to continue working if they’re going to get back in the playoff mix.

“We have a group of guys here that are going to work it out together. There is a difference between panicking and getting a sense of urgency,” said Nolan on the team’s official website. “We have to play with a little sense of urgency. When we do that, we're pretty good, but when we don't, it shows. When things go bad, you don't get the bounces. We have to continue to work and fight through this thing, and then we'll get our bounces back.”