The New York Islanders 5-2 loss to Boston is another painful reminder that their defense is still costing them precious points in the league’s toughest division.
Outshot, outmuscled, and outplayed best describe the Islanders’ efforts against the Bruins.
The Islanders are continuing to drop precious points as the rest of the division maintains pace in the Devils and Rangers both won in overtime. Josh Bailey‘s return was spoiled by a defensive meltdown that sheds light into the team’s ‘fragile’ mindset that Head Coach Doug Weight wanted resolved for the second-half of the season.
It’s difficult to pinpoint the main reasoning for the Islanders struggles. They’ve won only three of their last seven games and are three points behind Pittsburgh — who beat the L.A. Kings last night as well — for the final playoff spot.
The root of their issue has been defense, and for good reason. The Isles were outshot once again 34-24, couldn’t kill off the Bruins only powerplay, and failed to convert on two opportunities of their own.
Even the often-reliable Nick Leddy hasn’t been himself, scoring no points. During the Isles last 10 games Leddy has two points and is an alarming -12. This isn’t an attempt to pick on him, but serves as a highlight for how mightily the defense has struggled for the top-blueliner to reflect those statistics.
Let it Snow
It’s important to remember two things: the Islanders defense is suffering from a rash of injury to two key players: Calvin de Haan (out for the season) and Johnny Boychuk (likely to return by the end of the month).
It’s also pertinent to remember that the Islanders defensive struggles were consistent throughout the course of the season too, having two regulars out of the lineup only hurts something that was already broken to begin with, so the conversation shifts.
With the Isles well in need of a defenseman, and with most of the league’s eyes on General Manager Garth Snow to pull the trigger on a move — any move, to upgrade the Islanders defense, time is running out.
Prices starting to be set, and they're astronomical. Reports are the Coyotes want two high-end roster players and a 1st rounder for Ekman-Larsson and Sabres setting price super high on Kane (NHL player, prospect, 1st rounder, conditional). #NHL
— Andy Graziano (@AndyGraz_SNY) January 18, 2018
The asking price on Oliver-Ekman Larsson is out, and it makes Joe Sakic’s request for Matt Duchene look somewhat reasonable. Whatever the chances may be for the Isles to land such an impactful player, it’s a move that’s well worth exploring.
Even if the Isles are out on Ekman-Larsson, they could go the route of Niklas Hjmarlsson, a more reserved type of defenseman whose pricetag will be well-below Ekman-Larsson’s.
Each piling loss for the Islanders puts more pressure on Snow and members of the Islanders front office. If the Islanders remain pat at the deadline, it will only spell more trouble for them as the window to secure a playoff spot continues to close.