1st reason for optimism: The Islanders have overcome adversity before.
As stated before, this season has been a rollercoaster ride for the Isles. Part of the downfall has occurred due to injuries to key players on defense. Pulock has not played since December 2nd with a lower-body injury, Pelech has missed 23 games due to a wrist injury, and Sebastian Aho missed eight games. The team has been forced to rely on Samuel Bolduc, a waiver claim in Mike Reilly, and a veteran backup in Robert Bortuzzo. The team has also asked Sorokin to start the last seven games in Semyon Varlamov’s absence.
The team has also responded to inadequate stretches of play before. Between November 4th and 16th, the Islanders went 0-4-3 while also blowing third-period leads four times. They responded to this by winning the next three games. On December 5th, the Islanders blew a 4-1 lead in the third period to the Sharks and lost in overtime 5-4. They responded by recording a point in eight straight games.
Furthermore, we remember this team was out of a playoff spot at this time last season with the offense struggling. The Islanders were without Pelech and Oliver Wahlstrom last January, and then lost Barzal for the final 23 games. The big difference between that team and the current Islanders is the protection of Sorokin, both at full strength and on the PK. If the Islanders could overcome adversity in these instances, then there is no excuse for failing now, especially with Sorokin serving as an iron man.