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Zella: Islanders Soul Searching as Playoffs Near

Watching the New York Islanders over the last three games has been a chore. Three straight losses to non-playoff teams are just the cherry on top of their play over the last month. As if that’s not bad enough, the Islanders have won just four games in regulation since April 6. Their schedule did get a bit more difficult, but it’s not such a good idea to mention that considering it won’t get any easier in the playoffs.

It’s been a grind of a season, no doubt. A condensed schedule mixed with little to no ability to unwind and see family added a lot of mental stress to the season. But it’s something every team is going through. “Everybody’s tired,” Tampa Bay Lightning head coach, Jon Cooper, said after a loss to the Carolina Hurricanes. “Not just our team — all the teams.” Islanders head coach, Barry Trotz, likened it to running a marathon and getting to that final turn.

The goaltending has been the only bright spot for this team throughout this season, consistently putting up great numbers and bouncing back after tough losses. The same cannot be said for the rest of the team, which has been hot or cold really over the last two seasons, finding their game for long stretches before their game falls. They’ve been in the middle of the pack for a long time, but it could be argued those numbers are just the average; this team is regularly either the best or close to the bottom of the league in terms of performance.

Mathew Barzal, Jordan Eberle, and Brock Nelson have been ice cold as of late. Kyle Palmieri has also not had much success so far as an Islander, with three points in 15 games. Palmieri did finally get a chance to skate alongside Barzal against the Devils recently but to no avail. He did look better than he has in the last few games and it could just take some time for those two to gel.

The powerplay has also been abysmal lately. No movement, shots from the point, and not enough traffic continue to be the modus operandi of a team desperate for those chances to score.

The good news is, we’ve seen this team flip a switch. With a little more than a week between their last game of the 2020-21 regular season and the game one of the first round – against an opponent to be determined – we’ll have to cross our fingers and hope they can return to form in short order.



Follow Jon on Twitter: @jonzella

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