The Islanders pictured the 2021-22 season beginning with the opening of their $1.1 billion enviornment and ending with a parade down Hempstead Turnpike. After two straight years of being inside arm’s size of a Stanley Cup Closing, this felt prefer it could possibly be the end result.
As a substitute, they limped into the All-Star break with a 16-17-6 file following a demoralizing 3-0 loss at home to the Kraken, after which head coach Barry Trotz ripped his workforce’s effort.
With out an unimaginable second-half run, the Islanders seemingly might be watching the postseason from their couches, lamenting a misplaced season.
“We simply gotta reset right here,” Brock Nelson mentioned following the loss to Seattle.
First on the checklist: Discovering a constant approach to rating. The Islanders aren’t a workforce set as much as win video games with offense, however that doesn’t excuse an output that ranks thirtieth within the league.
The primary line of Anders Lee, Mathew Barzal and Josh Bailey is the one ahead group that has scored greater than 10 targets, and even there, the lack of Jordan Eberle has hit laborious. Bailey has produced and created possibilities, with 17 assists, however three targets in 34 video games gained’t do from a top-six winger who will get power-play minutes.
Kyle Palmieri, who scored one purpose with six assists in 29 video games, has been a major disappointment — and a serious subject. The Islanders gave Palmieri a four-year deal at $5 million (annual common worth) final offseason.
“He’s a prime six ahead for us,” Trotz mentioned final week.
However he hasn’t produced prefer it.
On the again finish, the lack of Nick Leddy throughout the offseason has hit more durable than anticipated. Traded for salary-cap causes, Leddy was a powerful offensive presence who may get the puck up the ice, qualities the Islanders have sorely missed from their defensemen. Noah Dobson’s steps ahead in that division depend as what is likely to be the largest constructive throughout the first half of the Islanders’ season, and Ryan Pulock’s return from harm will assist, too. However it’s unclear whether or not that can mix to be sufficient to beat their issues.
Additionally complicating issues is that, upon returning to play, the Islanders could have simply two residence video games for the remainder of February. Following a 13-game street journey to begin the season, the Islanders didn’t take full benefit of a two-month stretch through which they barely left Lengthy Island, going 9-10-3 at UBS Enviornment towards a comparatively comfortable schedule.
With two western journeys on faucet, issues are about to get a lot more durable. 9 of their subsequent 11 video games might be on the street, and 5 of these video games might be towards playoff groups.
The Islanders’ playoff odds are low sufficient — between 4 and 11 %, relying which public mannequin you take a look at — that they will’t afford to proceed hovering round .500. Such a end result, or worse, would all however formally finish their already-slim playoff hopes, and doubtlessly immediate normal supervisor Lou Lamoriello to be a vendor on the commerce deadline.
If their effort over the past couple of weeks — after they misplaced 4 of six, together with what Nelson referred to as a “must-win” towards Seattle — is any indication, then it’s a hefty ask to keep away from such a state of affairs.
“We’re going to want extra,” an offended Trotz mentioned Wednesday evening. “We’re occurring the street, enjoying good groups. We’ve gotta put in a greater effort.”
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