"You will never hear me question Kyle's effort."
Strong and encouraging words from Islanders head coach Scott Gordon. "He's always going to give it his best," Gordon added.
The coach is, of course, right. But one can look at Okposo's season so far and call it a microcosm of the entire Islanders season. Hard work, but less reward than one might expect.
Lest you think we're picking on this blog's namesake, we'll be the first to point out that Kyle leads the team in assists (17) and has the third highest point total, at 22. But just by casually observing the way he has played this year, you'd imagine he would have netted 15 or 20 goals by now. Unfortunately, he's been stuck on 5 for the last 15 games.
Asked if he was frustrated by his low goal output, Kyle offered that he "feels like [he's] playing well," but is not getting the breaks that lead to goals. "Everybody goes through it," he continued, "and you've just got to wait it out."
Which brings us back to that microcosm part. The same could be said of the Islanders. Many parts of the team are functioning properly, but the results are uneven. This was on display again on Thursday (12/17) night at home against the hated New York Rangers.
On a night in which Kyle insisted that the Isles clearly outplayed the Rangers, they dropped the game by a 5-2 score. Chances were missed, most memorably a Nate Thompson scoring attempt on an empty net, and the Rangers rode a hot goalie to a win. Okposo himself had 6 tries against Henrik Lundqvist, but could get nothing past the Swede.
Despite the result, there seemed to be an encouraging confidence going around the locker room. Kyle made it clear that the team is a cohesive unit despite their 13-15-7 record. They will continue to play an aggressive, physical brand of hockey, too. "When they mess with one guy they mess with five, that's our mentality right now."
Hopefully the bounces will come soon, better luck will be had, and some more wins will be tallied. But as the coach said, you can't question the effort.