The New York Islanders returned to Long Island having picked up 2 of a possible 10 points from a five-game road trip. It’s a tough situation the Islanders have put themselves in, with the run of poor play coinciding with the first busy week of the team’s 2020-21 regular season schedule.
We all knew the 2020-21 NHL season would be packed with busy weeks, considering the condensed nature of the the schedule. But five games in eight days, in three different cities, with a host of new and generally restrictive travel guidelines is not an easy week for any team. That’s not an excuse for the islanders’ poor performance, it’s just reality.
What matters now is that this Islanders team turns its attention to the week ahead of them. A week that has cleared up substantially already, and could further, due to bad weather, the NHL’s health and safety protocols, and the New Jersey Devils’ COVID-19 outbreak.
The New York Islanders could benefit from time off
This week the Islanders found out just how quickly you can lose ground in the standings when every game is a four-point game. Their projected playoff chances took some big hits with losses to an inferior Devils team, the shorthanded Capitals, twice, and the Flyers, twice.
But you can also cover that same ground pretty quickly, for the same reason.
The Islanders should approach this as an unexpected but welcome chance to regroup, practice, and prepare. In a season where consecutive days off will be few and far between, the Isles have been handed an opportunity to get their proverbial train back on the rails.
That’s something that shouldn’t be overlooked, either. I’ve seen it mentioned a bunch already today, the Islanders likely wouldn’t have made the 2019-20 Stanley Cup Playoffs were it not for the regular season being postponed and ultimately cancelled due to COVID-19. Then they came out in the bubble looking better than ever.
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That isn’t to say the team will suddenly come out in their next game and look like world-beaters, but a day off to practice what ailed them last week certainly can’t hurt either. Barry Trotz has already said the team will be emphasizing practice on their special teams.