After Wednesday (12/9) night's unfortunate loss in Toronto, a game in which the Islanders rallied to tie -- only to lose, a sad fact is emerging. The only thing working really well for the team is the top line (Moulson, Tavares, Okposo).
With the loss the Islanders fell back into a 'bottom 5' position in the league, which bodes well for a future draft, but not so well for the current campaign.
Are the Islanders improved from last year's product? No doubt. Are they a playoff team this season? Likely not.
Examining the recent woes a little further, we see that #1 pick John Tavares is working out just fine (15 goals in 31 games). It's early to call him the Calder trophy favorite, but if his pace continues, he'll win it easily. And while the Isles have hit another one of their infamous team scoring droughts, JT has not, netting each of the last five goals the team has scored.
Not by coincidence, Kyle Okposo has assisted Tavares on the most recent four of those goals, and has helped on 6 of the team's last 7. The line is working as designed; Okposo feeding passes to the team's young sniper. And on the left side, the emergence of Matt Moulson (14 goals) has been written about to death. There's no need to rehash that.
But what of the other lines? The Islanders are not ready to give up on players like Sean Bergenheim, Frans Nielsen, and Josh Bailey. As it stands right now, they appear to be important parts of the rebuilding process. But there has been spotty production from not only those three, but the rest of the regular forwards (Sim, Tambellini, Park, etc.). And that is the real problem. Inconsistency. Each of the aforementioned players might have a great game, but then they go M.I.A. for the next three. Not a winning formula, if you ask us.
So what is Garth Snow to do? With about $17 million in cap space and some big name free agents possibly becoming available at the trading deadline, will he make a move? Is he authorized to make one? We shall see. But the status quo is aggravating to a fan base that has been through almost everything, but more importantly, can see good days on the horizon.
As for now, we're left with a one line team and a taste of what can be.