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Zella: Not Time to Panic with the Islanders

Let’s get this out of the way right out of the gate. Islanders General manager Lou Lamoriello made the right moves leading up to the deadline. Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac helped round out a roster in desperate need of a boost after captain Anders Lee, went down with a season-ending injury. And while it would be easy to point to their stats over the last five games, wondering how anyone could believe it was the right move – though many of you did upon initial reaction – it’s important to look back just one season ago when Lou added Pageau.

Now, a over year later, the Pageau trade and sign was brilliant. But, if you remember, that wasn’t the case when it first arrived on Long Island. He endeared himself to Isles fans by fighting Jacob Truba and scoring a goal in his first game and followed it up with another goal against the St. Louis Blues the next game. Zooming out from those two moments, the Islanders wouldn’t win another game in the 2019-20 regular season, as their skid continued even after acquiring Pageau and he collected just two points in seven games.

Fast forward to the playoffs, where Pageau and the Islanders began to gel. When it was all said at done, Pageau had collected 11 points in 22 games and the Isles made it all the way to the Eastern Conference Final, falling in six games to the eventual Cup-champion Lightning.

Keep this in mind when thinking about how Palmieri (one goal in five games) and Zajac (one goal in five games) still need time to get acclimated to their new squad. It would also be wise to remember that this is an Islander team that has struggled mightily on the road and that the issues we saw recently are more than just two players. With the two back-to-back losses against the Boston Bruins, the Isles fall to 9-11-2 on the road this season.

That’s unacceptable for a club with aspirations of another deep playoff run.

“They came out and set the tone, we had some guys that didn’t want to accept the challenge,” Trotz said following Thursday’s defeat. “We weren’t hard enough for this game. We were looking for a little easier game and it wasn’t.

The panic button shouldn’t be hit just yet. But the team as a whole — not just the new guys — needs to do some soul searching over the last 12 games of the regular season. They could easily see their second-place position in the East, where they have been for most of the year, disappear quickly if they don’t pull it together.




Follow Jon on Twitter at @jonzella

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