The NY Islanders rarely trail in games but still struggle to win

2024 Navy Federal Credit Union Stadium Series - New York Rangers v New York Islanders
2024 Navy Federal Credit Union Stadium Series - New York Rangers v New York Islanders / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

It's no secret that the NY Islanders have had trouble holding onto leads since game one of the 2023-24 season. It's the sole reason they're chasing a wild card position rather than sitting firmly in a playoff spot among the other top teams in the Metro Division.

On 18 occurrences, the Islanders have blown a third period lead, and 11 times have blown a multi-goal lead. Despite the transition from Lane Lambert to Patrick Roy, the players still find it problematic to close the door while ahead in the third period.

After securing two points last night despite blowing another third period lead, the Isles sit four points behind the Detroit Red Wings and five behind the Tampa Bay Lighting (the Isles have two games in hand) for wild card position. Holding onto leads would have the Isles in the driver's seat, with these teams chasing them instead.

“We really do have the lead lots, we just have to find a way to get over the hump,” Mat Barzal said last night. “It was nice to get the win tonight, but it shouldn’t have had to get there. We have to find a way to be better."

On average, the Islanders have trailed for 15:48 per game this season, fifth best in the NHL. Of the top 13 teams in this category, the Isles are the only team on the outside looking in in terms of playoff position. They lead the Metro in the least amount of time trailing and sit only behind this season's juggernauts, the Boston Bruins, Vancouver Canucks, Winnipeg Jets, and Florida Panthers.

Much of the Isles' failure to maintain leads is due to the putridity of the penalty kill. With a league-worst 71.3% kill rate, if the season were to end today, the Isles would go down in history with the eighth-worst penalty kill in NHL history.

It's been said over and over again, but the Isles have to find a way to close out games. A team full of veterans shouldn't struggle to close the door every game, but here we are. If they can't solve it ASAP, they'll be watching playoff hockey from their couch like the rest of us.