The NY Islanders continue to spiral in a downward direction in the month of January. In 12 games since the beginning of 2023, the Islanders have dropped 10 of their last 12 contests. The only teams they've beaten this month are the Vancouver Canucks and Montreal Canadiens, two teams that are at the bottom of the NHL standings, a position the Islanders are heading in to join them. On Wednesday morning, Isles GM Lou Lamoriello addressed the state of the team ahead of their contest against the Ottawa Senators, rolling out the same lines we've all heard before when the Isles hit a bump in the road.
This season in particular, the NHL has seen goal scoring trend much higher than usual. As of January 25th, NHL teams are averaging 5.26 goals per game according to Hockey Reference. In the Islanders last 12 games, they've averaged just two goals per game. The need is clear. It's definitely not the goaltending as Ilya Sorokin continues to make his case for the Vezina Trophy. It's not the blue line that runs pretty deep and ironically leads the NHL in goals scored by a defenseman. It's the forward group that doesn't possess any true goal scorers, the ones that can hop on the ice and change the course of a game with the flick of a wrist.
When Lamoriello was asked about his willingness to address the need, he gave a familiar response.
“I think if we can make ourselves better, whether it been yesterday or the day before or today or tomorrow, we will definitely do that,” Lamoriello said. “What the price you have to add – you have to make sure that whatever you add is not subtracting.”
In fairness, the Islanders don't have a ton to sell. It's not like Lamoriello to give up on a season, either, so it doesn't seem likely he'll begin to shed off expiring contracts. Aatu Räty is arguably their most valubale prospect and with some significant injuries keeping players out of the lineup, it looks like he'll play his 10th game against the Senators Wednesday night and burn a year of his entry-level contract. All of that to say, the Islanders probably want to keep him.
Lamoriello has put himself in a precarious position, one that he may not be able to recover from in season. He claims his willingness to make the Islanders a better team, but actions speak louder than words and the last time he acquired a forward to improve the lineup, it was April 7, 2021 when he added Kyle Palmieri at the trade deadline. With a little over five weeks to the trade deadline and seemingly no urgency to add now, only time will tell if something happens. If not, it's not out of the question there will be a new general manager calling the shots this summer. One thing was certain, however. Lamoriello was up front about the lack of improvements to this point, taking full responsibility.
"There’s no excuses, because it’s on me," he said. “Totally on me, that’s my responsibility to make us the best we possibly can. To make whatever changes we can. That’s not on the coaching staff, that’s not on the players. I take that responsibility. It’s making it happen. There’s a lot of reasons why sometimes you can, and you can’t, and those are decisions you have to make. But I take full responsibility for whatever changes are, or (are) not, made."