The New York Islanders find themselves in a tough situation. With 30 games played on the season, the Isles have 28 points and find themselves rooted to the bottom of the Metropolitan Division.
Of course, as well all know, the Islanders have games in hand on every single team in the league. So if they're going to get up into the playoff hunt they need to make those games in hand count and continue picking up points consistently. They can't afford a day off.
New York Islanders vets can't take off day
Since December 1, the Isles have been doing a good job of that. With a 6-2-4 record (0.666 points percentage) they've started to cut the deficit between them and the teams ahead of them in the standings. But they'll have to do this consistently for the remainder of the season to give themselves a chance.
Obviously, regulation losses will happen from now through to April. But if the Islanders were giving their all in those losses we could find some peace in the loss. That's not what happened against the Capitals on Saturday.
Outside of arguably Oliver Wahlstrom, Noah Dobson, and Semyon Varlamov the rest of the team did not give a full effort out there. There was little push from the Isles veterans who are for better or worse responsible for driving this team to success.
And that veteran core didn't do their job against the Capitals. Last night Anders Lee was ineffective. Mathew Barzal had little to no impact (finishing with the 3rd worst game score for either team). Anthony Beauvillier was MIA again. Josh Bailey's decision-making was off. Brock Nelson was virtually invisible. Pageau wasn't at his best. And Kyle Palmieri isn't even in the lineup due to injury/lack of production.*
I know Palmieri is still listed on the team's IR but there's a debate to be had that maybe he could be ready? When asked about putting Palmieri into the lineup, Associate Coach Lane Lambert simply said: "We'll just have to see." That's obviously not saying Palmieri is back at full strength, but it isn't saying he's not ready either.
If the Islanders are going to, maybe, get into a playoff position they need their vets to step up and push the team forward. Every. Single. Night.
It's unfortunate, but that's where the Islanders are in their season. They simply can't afford any single player, let alone a group of players, to essentially drift in any single game. Especially their vets who are given the keys to drive this team forward.