McDonald: Five Losses In Six Makes West Coast Trip Imperative

(Neil Miller/Sportsday Wire)

The bloom is quickly coming off this rose.

As the novelty of the Barclays Center is rapidly wearing off, the Islanders need to concentrate on their product and put the puck in the net.

Wins are coming now at a premium after the Islanders dropped tonight’s game 2-1 to the Bruins, making it five losses in six attempts. Sure it’s still just November, but in a division that features the Rangers, Capitals, and Penguins, every win is important when only the top four make the playoffs.

After today’s games, the Devils are now ahead of the Islanders in the standings. They are even on points, but the Isles played one more game.

Coach Jack Capuano didn’t have the answers.

“Seems like the last few games (all the goalies) are hot,” said Capuano. “We had some chances five-on-five, we just have to battle through this.”

It’s not going to get any easier for the Islanders this week as they go out west for three games. Games in San Jose, Los Angeles and Anaheim will test the Islanders and hopefully bring the team together as they search for a solution.

“We need to get on the road and grease one out,” said defenseman Travis Harmonic. “We bumped into a good goalie and now we have to just grease one out. Last year, we had a successful road trip out went and hopefully play a good road hockey game and go back to do the things we know we can do.”

The Islanders need to play better at even strength. They need to be more forceful on the forecheck and crash the net. This team seems pretty passive, especially when they don’t have captain John Tavares at 100 percent after his battle with the flu. As Harmonic said, they need to “grease one out”, meaning they have to force the puck in, fight the corners and do the little things that winning teams do, especially when they don’t have their best stuff.

“We just have to bear down on our chances and that’s not just our chances in front of the net,” Harmonic said, “throughout the entire ice surface and when we are in front of the net we have to bear down because goals are not coming easy for us right now.”

It didn’t help that they had to face goalies like Cam Ward, Cory Schneider, Carey Price, and tonight Tuukka Rask, but the good teams find ways to win those games or at least win the games against the teams they should beat.

Last season, the Islanders did not have the November swoons Capuano’s teams are famous for. In fact, it kept them in the fight all year. It’s now Nov. 7 with just one win since Oct. 26, Capuano needs to turn this around or it might be time for the Islanders to make a change at the top.

Now his players love him, but last season, he was badly exposed by Barry Trotz in the playoffs against Washington. This year the swoon just might do him in.

The only problem, of course, is who’s his replacement? You don’t want to take pot luck and bring in a non-experienced coach. You need someone who can relate to the players and have the experience behind him to show this group how to win. And any experienced will cost you money.

Doug Weight may be an option. The organization loves him and he is on the payroll already, but he never coached before, so it’s a crapshoot.

So it’s not going to be an easy decision for Garth Snow. However, if the Isles come back from the West Coast winless, it may make the decision easier. You do not want to waste a year with Tavares in his prime by taking a step back. Sometimes, though, you need to make a change.

Right now, the bloom is off the rose and the Islanders may have to make a few tough decisions. Those, though, will become easy if the team just starts winning.

They have done it before and the talent is there.

Time to win boys.

About the Author

Joe McDonald

Joe McDonald is the founder and former publisher of NY Sports Day. After selling to i15Media in 2020, he serves as the Editor-in-Chief and responsible for the editorial side of the publication. In the past, Joe was the managing editor of NY Sportscene magazine and assistant editor of Mets Inside Pitch. He has covered the Mets since 2004.

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