The Islanders took on the Florida Panthers tonight (11/20) looking to avoid deepening their winless streak to twelve games. Florida was the opponent, a team only 5 points up the standings from the bottom-dwelling Isles.
The Panthers came out firing early, testing goalie Dwanye Roloson. In fact, their first shot rang off Roli’s post. He allowed nothing, and the Isles steadied themselves.
Matt Moulson gave the home crowd something to cheer about, scoring on a blast at 13:07 of the first period.
Unfortunately, the good times didn’t last. Roloson allowed four second period goals (from Santorelli twice, Reasoner, and Weiss). The crowd of 9,157 rained boos down on the Isles as the period concluded.
Down by three goals entering the final stanza, the Isles tried to rectify their sad situtation. They fired 21 shots at Panthers goalie Tomas Vokoun to no avail. Vokoun earned the second star of the game on the merit of his 39 total saves.
After the game the scene in the locker room was predictably downbeat. New coach Jack Capuano was willing to look at the mistakes as part of an adjustment period, but still found time to insist that making such errors are inexcusable. “We had a couple of passengers tonight.” He continued, “As we move forward they have to be held accountable.”
Roloson, who took his 9th consecutive loss, says that the team remains upbeat. I can’t imagine how he can say this, especially when he looks like he’d rather be anywhere else. I can’t (and wouldn’t) ask him if my hunch is right, but it’s not only in his body language, but in that of most of the players in the room too. Mark Eaton, who wasn’t especially talkative after the game, noted that their play had already cost one man his job.
Unfortunately there is no prospect of improvement on the horizon. Though scouts from other teams were in attendance, the current roster is in no shape to make a trade. And I can’t imagine franchises are too interested in any of the Islanders’ offensive pieces currently on the ice, save for perhaps tonight’s scorer (Moulson).
Even if Kyle Okposo and Mark Streit were healthy and available, would they make that much of an impact? The team has scored a second-from-worst 40 goals and has a –26 goal differential. While the Isles miss the pair, I can’t say that they’d be in contention for a playoff spot even at full strength.
The Islanders will have a chance to pick up their first win in 13 tries tomorrow night in Atlanta. I would like to see an offensive outburst and a win, but realistically I’m afraid it will be more of the same for this team in distress.