While the New York area is all abuzz over football, the eyes of Okposo Net always stay fixed on the boards, creases, and blue lines. Unfortunately, what we've been seeing lately on the Coliseum ice has made us feel queasy.
The long and short of it is that in the last two games (versus Philadelphia and Carolina) the Isles have frittered away two goal leads in each, lost both, and in the process squandered 3 points of what looked like an easy four. This has bumped them down to 8th place in the Eastern Conference right now, which is an uncomfortable position to be in with Ottawa holding the likely #1 seed come playoff time.
Wins in each contest would have had the Islanders right in the thick of the Atlantic Division race. Instead, they're still looking up at Pittsburgh, New Jersey, and Philadelphia.
The thing that is most annoying about this team is that they are still playing fairly sound hockey but not coming away with victories. Everyone knows they don't have the firepower to muster more than 3 or 4 goals a night, but suddenly they have lost the ability to ride out long stretches of play in their own end and efficiently kill penalties. Speaking with the coaches and players provides a multitude of answers, with some guys blaming "bad breaks," others challenging the refs' decisions, and some citing the Islanders' poor decision making process and overall effort. Apparently the Islanders are as clueless as to why this down cycle is happening as we are.
Coach Ted Nolan has done a wonderful job with this team, one that many have picked to finish near last. From hearing his players speak about him we know he is a player's coach and does run fairly loose practices. In fact, last week we were able to attend one of the Isles' morning practices and did notice some things that could use improvement. Here's a short video we shot; see if you notice any deficiencies in the team's cohesiveness:
In similarly disheartening news, Kyle Okposo has himself hit a bit of a dry spell too, registering only one assist in his last two games. We're not worried yet, since his season line stands at 1 G, 7 A in 8 games. Jeff Tambellini is still on fire, notching his 25th AHL goal on Monday, but nobody but us seems to care. We kid, of course. Unfortunately he's stuck behind some good players, so for now he'll just have to keep impressing at Bridgeport.
We're hoping that K.O. and the Isles can get their problems straightened out.