Early on this season, a disturbing trend is creeping up for the hockey team that plays at the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush.
The Islanders are leaving points on the table with their inability to close out games. After tonight’s 3-2 shootout loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, four times this season, the Islanders gave up goals late, which either gave up the lead or propelled the other team to victory.
And as you know, these points add up, be it the loser one point or the winning two and the Islanders, now at 4-6-1 on the season, need to play better.
“Some guys, obviously, need to play better. Some guys, right now, are struggling,” said coach Capuano said. “You saw some of the puck battles out there. I don’t have to tell you who they are. But at the end of the day, those are the little things that (are) big in our game — being strong on the puck. So we have to re-evaluate some of our guys and move forward.”
The coach lamented the loss of 134 scoring points walking out the door with Kyle Okposo, Franz Neilson, and Matt Martin finding new homes this past off-season and their replacements in Andrew Ladd and Jason Chimera have struggled to get Brooklyn sea legs, while the third in P.A. Parenteau was waived and now part of a surprising Devils squad in New Jersey.
So maybe the answers are in rookies like Mathiew Barzal and Anthony Beauvillier, which Capuano said he would take a look at, because outside of captain John Tavares and some of the defensemen, the Islander have struggled to put the puck into the net.
“We’ve got to find a way to get some balanced offense on our hockey team,” Capuano said. “That’s my concern.”
More concerning is how the Islanders are putting themselves in a bigger hole. Remember, only four teams in the Metropolitan Division will make the playoffs and with the Penguins, Capitals and that team that must not be names that resides across the Brooklyn Bridge playing well, the Islanders will have to play catch-up for the fourth spot.
Currently in seventh, the Islanders faced a good test tonight with the fourth place Flyers and thanks to Jaroslav Halak’s 40 saves on the night, it looked like they would have a hard fought win up until Matt Reed tied it with less than a minute into the match.
But Reed’s goal was of power play variety, because the Isles just can’t stay out of the box. They gave Tampa Bay 29 penalty minutes in Tuesday debacle and tonight they were penalized six times. That type of sloppy play just costs the team.
You can hear it in Capuano’s voice. There’s just so much the coach can do to fix these issues. The good news is there is 71 games left in the season to fix these issues, but if they don’t correct the problems soon, they may dig themselves too big of a hole to climb out for a playoff run.