In what must be the quickest swing of fortune and fan emotion in the history of sports, the New York Islanders have gone from the top of their conference to the bottom. And it took fewer than three calendar weeks.
The Isles, who haven't even had a lead in any of the contests, have lost eight games in a row. It may get worse before it gets better, too, since the team will take on San Jose and Los Angeles before the week is through. Those squads are a lot better than the Anaheim team the Isles were shut out (1-0) by on Wednesday (11/10) night.
I was worried (and warned by other writers earlier this season) that goals might be hard to come by this season for the Islanders. The injury to Kyle Okposo only compounded the fear. But after a while a team has to play the hand they're dealt and find a way to at least compete each night. It looks right now as if the will to play, let alone win, has evaporated. The home announcers said as much after the broadcast.
I don't have the answers on how to turn this around. Fans, who tend to overreact, are calling for the ouster of Head Coach Scott Gordon. I don't believe that would change much with this team. Especially if he is just replaced by one of his assistants.
What I do know is that when you outplay, outshoot, and are given six power play chances against a team that played the previous night, you should be able to score at least a lone goal. The Islanders didn't, and now run the risk of returning home from California on a ten game losing streak.
Is it time to push the 'panic' button and make changes to the roster? I don't know. Would playing still-developing players like Travis Hamonic and/or Calvin DeHaan at the NHL level change things on defense? How do you add goals to an anemic offense?
If the Islanders want to climb out of their hole, they'll need to address these issues, and quickly.