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New York Islanders: Focus on the Positives not the Negatives

Mar 21, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) controls the puck during the second period against the Philadelphia Flyers at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 21, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) controls the puck during the second period against the Philadelphia Flyers at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports /
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It’s Just a Rough Patch – and the New York Islanders will get through it.

On Monday the New York Islanders lost 4-1 to divisional rivals Philadelphia Flyers. The loss was a tough one as it dropped the Islanders into the first wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. The loss also meant the Flyers moved to within three points of the Islanders in the playoff hunt.

Just a week ago playoff hockey seemed like a certainty for the boys from Brooklyn, is it time to panic? Things certainly aren’t looking great for the Islanders. The Islanders are playing inconsistent hockey, dropping 5 in their last 10.

Now add the fact that starting goaltender Jaroslav Halak is scheduled to be out for up to 6 weeks and the picture looks increasingly grimmer. It’s certainly an uncomfortable position to be in, but it’s not all doom and gloom. But if you look to the positives, you’ll see that this may just be a rough patch.

Why things aren’t So Gloomy

Loosing to the Flyers shouldn’t be disregarded. The game was one of those clichéd 4 point games. It wasn’t a must win game, but it wasn’t too far from it. Rather than distance themselves from the surging Flyers, the loss brought further doubt to the Islanders participating in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

When Halak went out with a groin injury, the worry over the calibre of his replacements in Thomas Greiss and Jean-Francois Berube was rightfully questionned. Thomas Greiss hadn’t played more than 25 games in a season and had averaged 2.61 GAA with a 0.905 SV% in his 6 years before joining the Islanders. While third string goalie, Jean-Francois Berube had been untested at the NHL level.

Fortunately though Greiss and Berube have exceeded expectations by posting a 2.29  and 2.19 GAA with a .927 and .929 SV% in 35 and 5 games respectively this season. Both have been perfectly serviceable in the absence of the Isles starter.

Next, is the play of pending free agent Kyle Okposo. Over the Islanders last 6 games Okposo has posted 4 points, bringing him to 10 on the month and 56 on the year. Okoposo was also the only Isles to get on the score sheet against the Flyers.

His wasn’t a pretty goal, but getting the puck to go in is all that matters. Sometimes just getting to the net and cashing in on a bad rebound or a good bounce is all it takes. Right now the Islanders need goals. Over their current skid they have scored 10 goals, a third of that comes from Okposo.

Positive Beats Negative

The New York Islanders still have a 93.7% chance of making the playoffs, according to Sports Clubs Stats. It’s going to take a significant breakdown for the Isles to miss out on the playoffs.

Losing 6 of their last 8 is by no means something to ignore out-right. It isn’t great, but rather than simply focus on what’s going wrong around the franchise and how they might miss the playoffs I wanted to shift the focus to what might pull the Isles out of this funk.

Next: New York Rangers shaky California road trip exposes issues

Before the darkness swells and despair takes control, remember that the Islanders still hold a two point advantage over the aforementioned Flyers. It’s a slight advantage, but one that can’t be ignored with only 9 games remaining on the season.

The starter might be out injured for the next six weeks, but his replacements have been more than capable to take his place. Scoring might be an issue, but the Isles top scorer is finding his groove late in the season. His inspired play should rub off on his fellow teammates. The Islanders are still almost guaranteed a spot in the playoffs. Don’t dwell on the negative.

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