The Islanders haven’t scored a regulation goal in three of their last four games and yet they’ve collected five of a possible eight points. Isles nation is in a panic of course wondering why their team can’t seem to score consistently anymore. I’m here to tell you it’s going to be okay.
Step back off the ledge because the Islanders are still one of the top teams in the league.
Every good team in the NHL goes through rough stretches and must deal with some form of adversity over the course of a season. Take the Tampa Bay Lightning for example. The reigning champs have gone 3-3 over their last six games and that’s coming against teams like Nashville, Columbus and Detroit. The Isles don’t get the benefit of playing in a weaker division as the NHL’s MassMutual East division is one of the league’s toughest.
With that being said, the Isles currently sit in third place in the East with nine games to go. After two more games with Washington and a pair with the Rangers, the Isles will get the Sabres and Devils for four of their final five games. There are plenty of reasons not to panic about the Islanders as we come down the stretch run and I’ll give you three of them. Here we go…
1. Mat Barzal hasn’t recorded a point in four games
Yes, it’s true. The Islanders’ superstar has been held off the scoresheet in the last four games and yet they’ve managed to pick up five of the eight possible points. Normally, as Barzal goes, so do the Islanders. So to see them still find ways to collect points despite their best player being held scoreless is a good thing. Barzal is too talented to be kept off the scoresheet for long, and when he begins scoring again, that will greatly help the Isles cause.
2. They’re playing the same teams…. And they’re some of the elite in the NHL
One of the quirks of this 56-game season is the schedule is you only play teams in your own division. That’s unfortunate for the Isles considering the East is arguably the best and deepest of the four. By this point, every team in the division knows what everyone else is doing. They’ve faced each other so much and there is so much familiarity that there’s nothing any of these teams can hide at this point.
“The tricks are limited; all the tricks are there. Can you execute them or not?” said Barry Trotz after last night’s game.
These teams have nothing left to hide at this point so space on the ice is going to be limited and it’s a matter of executing more plays than the opposition. It’s not going to happen every night but that doesn’t mean the team has lost its ability. The Isles have seen the Caps a lot this month and there’s still two more meetings, so it’s going to be tough to find room to create, but that doesn’t mean the Isles have lost the ability to create. The games against Buffalo and New Jersey should help the Isles find their mojo again before to playoffs begin.
The Isles have Barry Trotz and nobody else does
The most important thing to realize is who is behind the bench. Barry Trotz is arguably the best hockey coach in the world at this moment and he’s in charge of the Isles. This is why he was brought here and it’s important to trust him. Trotz has pushed every right button since he’s gotten here, and he’s always had his teams ready to play in the biggest spots. Seemingly, whenever the Islanders have faced adversity under Trotz, they’ve always responded. Even recently, after the disastrous three game road trip last week, Trotz had his team ready to go against the Rangers and they won handedly 6-1.
— Rob Taub (@RTaub_) April 21, 2021
Previous Isles teams might not have done that, and they still might’ve been on a losing streak. Trotz has coached over 1700 games over 22 years in the NHL, so he’s seen a slump or two, and has always known how to get his teams out of it. Trust Trotz to figure it out and have the Isles ready to go on a deep playoff run.
Overall, it’s easy to get frustrated with this club at this time of the season. They’ve gone through similar phases in seasons past. But the Islanders know when to turn it on when the time calls for it.
To quote the star Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers:
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