The New York Islanders have been mired in an awful slump. The Isles are in danger of letting their once-promising season crumble to pieces after losing their last five games and seven out of their last ten.
Friday’s 4-0 shutout at the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins handed the New York Islanders their fifth consecutive loss. The Isles will need to sift some light from the buckets of darkness that have been their last two weeks if they want to stay in the playoff conversation. There have to be some positives to take away from the Islanders poor play as of late, right?
We all thought the Islanders had gained some momentum after their fight fest in Philly, judging by their spirited play throughout the first period Friday night. The Pesky Pens then scored two quick goals to start the second period and whatever momentum the Islanders had going for them was quickly lost.
The Isles finished the game sloppily, with the entire roster looking lethargic and defeated throughout. In games like these, where even the fans watching at home can feel the team’s deflation and hopelessness, there are still hidden gems of positivity to be found.
Oh yeah? Where?
There is no questioning that the New York Islanders have looked horrendous over the last few weeks. While it may seem like all is lost, there have been the occasional rays of sunlight that managed to break their way through what feels like the Islanders’ perpetually storm-darkened skies.
Take the play of Mathew Barzal, for example. In spite of the New York Islanders decreased offensive output as of late, The Kid still finds a way to improve, night in and night out. Whether he does it with a nifty puck handle or a good look trying to hit a streaking linemate with a pass, Barzy is always good for providing a spark when it’s needed.
You can even look to Andrew Ladd as a sign of hope. His leadership on the second line is obvious. But it’s once he’s off the ice and in the locker room where his value truly reveals itself. His demeanor on the ice hardly ever changes so one can only assume, whether it’s been a good night or a bad one, that he is just as even-keeled behind closed doors.
The younger players on this team need to see Ladd’s unwavering dedication to improvement while things aren’t going well, not panic and unaccountability. The example Andrew Ladd sets by being that guy every day provides a constant reminder to his teammates to forget about yesterday and focus on getting better today.
Let it ride
Whether the positive results of an inspirational spark will last a shift or last a week is determined solely by the players who are feeding off of it. A smart play here or a big hit there can be catalytic in turning the New York Islanders’ season around. Improved individual play will only do so much, but its reverberation throughout the team could prove to be invaluable in the long run.
Solid individual efforts can, in turn, become the stepping stones that the New York Islanders are in desperate need of right now. How else will they get across the Mississippi-sized river they’ve come to in their quest for the postseason?