After a very spirited and fairly solid effort in Pittsburgh the night before, the Isles dropped a 4-2 game at home to the Hurricanes. It, unfortunately, was not a an effort that they probably would have preferred now heading into the all star break and four days off.
Once again, the opposing team got the first goal of the game. Then, after trailing 1-0 after 1 period, the Isles tied it on another goal from Michael Grabner, his 15th of the season. However, Eric Staal scored 2 goals in a row, and gave his team a 3-1 lead going into the third period. Brandon Sutter pretty much put the game away in the third with a break away goal, though Andrew MacDonald did score his first of the season with a minute in twenty seconds left in the game. Sadly, it was a little to late, as the game ended with a 4-2 Hurricane victory.
So, at the all star break the Isles have a 15-27-7 overall record for 37 points in the standings. This puts them 14th in the Eastern Conference and 29th in the NHL. With only a 2 point lead over the Devils, their current, 3 game losing streak has not helped them. The Devils, in fact, have been heating up, while the Oilers, who were behind them in the NHL overall standings, leap frogged the Isles the other night with a win.
At this point, with Evgeni Nabokov suspended and Kevin Poulin going to be Rick DiPietro’s backup, the Islanders have to come out of the break playing much better hockey. According to an interview with Howie Rose on MSG last night, Garth Snow intends on signing Matt Moulson to a deal and does not plan to make any further trades. Of course, a lot can happen over the next month, but to me, the focus on the Isles should be picking up wins, and locking down the major pieces to the future of this club.
Being twenty points out of a playoff spot doesn’t matter. In my opinion, trying to pick up as many points and getting back to the .500 mark should be the goal of the Islanders over the next 33 games. Perhaps, the playoffs are a long shot, but let the proverbial chips fall as they may. This team is much better than their record shows, and, in my opinion, proving that fact by continuing to compete every night and putting a nice run of wins together again should be the focus for the remainder of the season.