The past week has been a week of firsts for the struggling New York Islanders. Some have been good first, some bad, and some just left the average fan shaking his head in wonder.
Rookie center Ryan Strome notched his first career point in just his second NHL game, an assist on the tying goal against the crosstown rival New York Rangers on Friday. The goal, coincidentally, was Brian Strait’s first career marker. The Rangers game was the team’s first win in a week, and was also the first time they had scored more than three goals in a game since mid-November.
Goaltender Evgeni Nabokov returned from injury and picked up his first win in over a month in the Rangers game. And inconsistent winger Michael Grabner ended a long goal-scoring drought, connecting for his first two goals since opening night of the season.
It was not, however, the first time the Isles managed to allow a late lead to escape; they managed that trick twice. First to the Lightning in a heartbreaker that saw them blow a shutout, a lead and the game within three minutes of the final buzzer. They trumped that performance on Saturday when, after dominating two periods and leading by a score of 3-1 after forty minutes, the Isles allowed the Ducks to roar back, tie the game, and eventually roll to a spectacular 5-3 comeback win.
This, unfortunately, was also not a first, but rather the tenth time this season the Isles have blown a third period lead, and the fifth time the blown lead was of the two goal variety. As Yogi Berra famously said, it ain’t over ‘til it’s over. Never were truer words spoken than as applied to the current New York Islanders team.
Predictably, and somewhat amusingly, the Ducks game was not the first game which ended with an explosion of frantic Twitter demands for the heads of the coaching and management staff. It’s the be-all and end-all cry of the desperate and the frustrated, and will continue to be so until either the team starts winning regularly, or a coaching change does eventually occur. Should that become the case the Isles will experience another first – someone other than Jack Capuano, Garth snow or Charles Wang being blamed for the on-ice atrocities.