Monday night’s New York Islanders game will have major implications on the Eastern Conference playoff picture.
- New York Islanders (38-23-9)
- Philadelphia Flyers (34-24-12 )
- NHL, Today, 7:30 PM on NBCSN Full Preview
- Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY
By Justin Weiss
The slumping New York Islanders will face the Philadelphia Flyers in a critical Monday night showdown in Brooklyn, after the Isles’ offense has gone AWOL over the past two weeks.
New York (38-23-9) has scored 7 goals in their last 5 games, as they’ve fallen from third place in the Metropolitan division into one of the two wild-card spots in the Eastern Conference.
They are five points ahead of the Flyers, but don’t have any games in hand against the suddenly dangerous Philly team — making the situation even more precarious.
The Isles are entering the final stretch of the season (they only have twelve games left to play), and have a magic number of 19 points over Detroit, and 20 over Philly.
While many teams heat up down-the-stretch, the Isles have played Jekyll and Hyde hockey, going on big winning streaks before falling into a bit of a slump over the past couple of weeks.
Even when they were winning, the Isles weren’t playing flashy hockey: they barely survived the Florida Panthers last Monday courtesy of a tremendous third period (after playing two terrible periods), and followed that up with another near-letdown against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
There are a combination of factors as to why the Isles have been cooling off.
For starters, the team has gone 1-1-4 since starting netminder Jaroslav Halak suffered an apparent groin injury last Tuesday night (which is supposed to keep him sidelined for at least six weeks).
Backup goalie Thomas Greiss has been nothing short of spectacular for the Isles, but has cooled off (a little) recently.
The production that the team has been accustomed to receive from all four lines has been replaced by some modest contributions from the captain, John Tavares, and the fourth line (which is, of course, legendary).
Brock Nelson and Ryan Strome have both disappeared into the backdrop (if Strome was ever not in the backdrop this season), while Kyle Okposo has been forced to make up the scoring for non-factors such as Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin.
“We will find our way here. I think guys will get on the scoreboard here,” head coach Jack Capuano told David Satriano today. “It’s good to be back home and hopefully we can gain that touch.”
The Isles will need to gain that touch — and fast. The rest of the Eastern Conference is salivating at a potential Isles slide, which will only happen if Capuano’s squad allows it to.