New York Islanders

Look at it any way you want, but if the New York Islanders want to have success, they can’t be so ineffective in the third period.

By Justin Weiss

If it weren’t for a couple of third-period collapses, the New York Islanders would be sitting comfortably atop the Metropolitan division.

Instead, they have dropped four of their last five games, and are absurdly close to shaking things up (which they have already done by sending Ryan Strome down to the AHL). It is inexcusable how Jack Capuano’s team has inexplicably stopped skating in the third period.

New York, the team that fell to the Washington Capitals in the first round of the 2014-15 NHL playoffs, has surrendered a mere nine goals in both the first and second periods, but has allowed fourteen in the last frame.

After blowing a historic amount of third period leads last season, the Isles seem poised to cough up a couple more in 2015-16.

That is a problem.

Last season, it seemed like déjà vu when New York squandered multiple three goal leads and saw third period leads evaporate. This season, the Islanders are sitting dangerously on the edge.

How can they combat this problem?

Head coach Jack Capuano can’t skate or hustle for his players, but he can be a little more vocal and his team a little more aggressive in the third period.

First, it would be nice to see guys skating in the last frame. Defensemen like Calvin de Haan, Marek Židlický, Nick Leddy, Brian Strait and Johnny Boychuk have ceased to move their feet in the final period.

“Why you would, after having great success for two periods by pushing the pace and limiting their time and space, why would suddenly give them time and space when the other was working for us? I feel the best way to defend a lead is to score a goal,” former Edmonton Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins said. “That’s the way to do it. To sit back and give them chance after chance doesn’t make sense to me.”

Additionally, Jack Capuano needs to call a timeout when it’s evident that his team is getting thoroughly outplayed.

“I should have called timeout,” former Knicks coach Mike Woodson said after a disappointing loss in December 2013 that stemmed from his players getting thoroughly outplayed in the last five minutes of the fourth quarter. “I take the heat. It’s on me.”

Take last Thursday night’s loss to the Carolina Hurricanes as an example. Besides for the notion that Carolina is a well below-average team, New York had multiple opportunities to win, but ultimately came away with an L, mostly because of a third period collapse that stemmed from a lack of skating and Jack Capuano’s inability to call a timeout.

The Isles cannot — and will not — be able to win if they can’t finish games. It isn’t only an inability to come away with a victory, but also an incapacity to stay in games when tied or down by one, as evidenced by last week’s loss to the Montreal Canadiens.

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Justin Weiss is a staff editor at Elite Sports New York, where he covers the New York Islanders and Brooklyn Cyclones. In 2016, he received a Quill Award for Freelance Journalism. He has written for the Long Island Herald, FanSided and YardBarker.