The New York Islanders season came to a close last night after a four-game sweep. What went wrong for this Islanders team?
I’ve come to terms with the New York Islanders season coming to a close. I’m still not happy about it, and I’m sure I’m going to wax poetically about the season being a great success (which it was) in the coming weeks but for now, I want to talk about what went wrong for the Islanders in this series.
Was it the nine-day wait in between series? I don’t think so. The Islanders came out ready to go in Game 1, they lost a 1-0 game in overtime in a game in which they were the better team. If they came out flat and got their doors blown off in Game 1 then maybe I’d give you that one.
But, with the way this series started, the Islanders didn’t look like they were out of it (initially). In Games 1 and 2 you could make the case that they were the better team, they were just unlucky. The wait had nothing to do with this.
It pains me to say it, but one of the reasons the Islanders lost this series was lack of talent. They were able to mask this in the Pittsburgh series when Jordan Eberle, Brock Nelson, and Josh Bailey were on fire but when they came back to earth their flaws were presented.
I love this team, and there’s a lot of nice pieces on it, but if you are running out Tom Kuhnhackl on your second line you can’t deny that your team is flawed. Yes, they are built on defense and goalie play, which was good for the most part in this series, they just lacked on the power play and offensively.
They need at least one more big piece to their top-six, and it’ll likely be addressed this offseason. We won’t get into names just yet, we have a long way to go, but comparatively, the Islanders lacked the top-six talent to match up against Carolina.
Resiliency went away
All year long, the Islanders were a resilient bunch. They didn’t lose three games in a row in regulation all year long. That is until this series, the resiliency completly disappeared.
It was evident last night when Leo Komarov took a stupid penalty and the Carolina Hurricanes tied the game. The Isles rolled over and there were still 55 minutes left in the game for them to score, but they went into a shell.
The same thing happened in Game 3. The Islanders got off to a good start but then went into a pretzel after Justin Faulk came in on a breakaway after his penalty expired. Again, there was still a ton of time left and it was a tie game at that point but they looked dead to rights.
And then in Game 2, the Isles held a 1-0 lead and then they allowed two quick goals to start the third period and slept walked through the rest of the period.
The lack of resilience was bothersome and it was so different from the team we saw all year long.
To me, those are the two things that cost the Islanders in this series. They lost their identity and then scoring went away. No, it wasn’t the break, it wasn’t the Barclays Center, and it certainly wasn’t Robin Lehner.
Carolina is a better version of what the Islanders are trying to be. They’ll get there, 2018-2019 was just the beginning.