Capellini: So Much For Snow's Missive, Islanders Have Gotten Worse
By Jeff Capellini
The Anaheim Ducks must be kicking themselves right now.
They have to be wondering how the hell they lost to the Islanders twice this season.
Back on Nov. 16, general manager Garth Snow broke his silence on New York's dreadful start. He waxed poetic to TSN's Frank Seravelli about how the Islanders were "a good team" and how he had "a lot of confidence in his players."
The veteran executive gave head coach Jack Capuano a vote of confidence, saying: "Jack is an excellent coach. We have good players. I love our coaching staff. In fact, last time I checked, he coached in the World Cup, and there were some pretty good coaching staffs."
Well, no one is going to confuse the Islanders with a good team these days. In fact, since Snow's public declaration that things should get better eventually, they have actually gotten worse.
The Islanders (6-10-4) have repeatedly crashed in spectacular fashion, and the funny part, or sad depending on your pain threshold, is Capuano recently blamed his team's horrendous results on "puck luck" and the "hockey gods."
Yeah, he really did.
The Isles have reached the quarter pole of their season, and you don't need to be a hockey aficionado to assess them as the NHL's biggest disappointment. They reside in the basement in the Eastern Conference, an unfathomable position given their back-to-back 100-point seasons and playoff breakthrough last spring.
Yet, it's all happening.
MORE: Capellini: Mr. Ledecky, Where Are 'World Class' Islanders You Promised?
Last time I wrote to all of you I explained how drastic measures needed to be taken, how Snow had to make up for his brutal offseason with multiple significant trades and/or perhaps replace his coach, provided, of course, he, himself, survived new co-owner Jon Ledecky's wrath first.
Well, Ledecky has thus far been missing in action as far as the product on the ice is concerned. Some have reported that he simply needs more time to assess his team. I say he has been part of the franchise for three years, and if he can't see the glaring problems that have precipitated the Isles' fall from budding conference power to pathetic afterthought, this franchise is really in trouble.
But, full disclosure here, I'm not quite there yet when it comes to the team's new ownership. Ledecky is by all accounts a very smart and savvy man. I do believe he will make his mark on this team. I just don't know if he'll do it in time to attempt to save this season. It's insane to me to think that the Isles could punt on 2016-17 before the calendar even turns to December, but with each passing day of no impact moves and one hellish loss after another, it's hard to blame fans and media alike for being highly skeptical of all the people calling the shots.
So with that in mind, let's look at what has transpired since Snow fired off his missive to the masses. Now might be a good time to take that flask out of the drawer.
• On Nov. 18, the Islanders let a one-goal lead get away in an eventual 3-2 overtime loss to the defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins. The Isles were kicked around Barclays Center in the first period before responding nicely to start the second, scoring twice in the first three minutes to take the lead. But, in a theme that has dominated the talking points all season, the Isles showed they simply don't know what to do when granted prosperity.
• The Isles started their three-game West Coast swing on Tuesday in Anaheim and somehow escaped an eventual 14-round shootout with a 3-2 win. But, again, they let a lead get away, this time in the third period. The victory gave the Islanders a season series sweep of the Ducks, which, like I said earlier, must be nauseating for Anaheim fans given how bad New York has been.
• Capuano's bunch got right back out on the ice on Wednesday in Los Angeles, but just couldn't get anything going offensively, a recurring problem this season and in parts of previous seasons. Anders Lee tied the game at 1 in the third before the Isles gave up three goals in 44 seconds on their way to a terrible 4-2 defeat.
• Then came perhaps the most crushing loss of the season. The Isles played well enough to beat the San Jose Sharks on Friday, but once again managed to collapse in the waning seconds of regulation. With goalie Thomas Greiss off for an extra skater inside the final minute, John Tavares found Nick Leddy just inside the left faceoff dot. The veteran defenseman's goal tied things at 2. But inexplicably, the Isles managed to blow the game 35 seconds later when Patrick Marleau redirected a hard pass past Greiss.
The loss dropped the Islanders to 2-5-4 in November. They have scored a grand total of 21 goals in regulation over their last 11 games. They have not scored more than two goals in regulation over their last seven games, their longest such streak since a nine-game run in November and December of 2013, according to team statistician extraordinaire Eric Hornick.
The Islanders have been particularly bad during the second half of games, especially in the third period. Hornick noted that the Isles have been tied in the third in six of their 10 regulation losses (and 10 of their 14 overall losses), but have allowed the lead goal in the final three minutes of regulation five times.
He also noted that the Isles have allowed the tying goal in the final minute on three occasions.
I mean, I don't know what else Ledecky needs to hear. It's fairly obvious the Islanders will require a miracle to get back into the playoff race if the team stays as currently constituted. And even if new players or perhaps new decisionmakers are brought in (cue the clamoring for suddenly available head coach Gerard Gallant), the adjustment period that will follow will likely be time the Isles won't have if the idea is to still make a run at something.
The Isles begin a stretch of 10 of their next 14 games at home with Monday night's tilt against the Calgary Flames. The mood at Barclays Center will likely be dour, but, again, fans have every right to voice their displeasure over what has transpired to this point.
This has been a disastrous season so far on just about every level. The Islanders are playing like a team trying to transition from league doormat to respectability, not like one expected to challenge for conference superiority.
Someone has to pay for that. There must be accountability beyond Ryan Strome or some other underachieving kid getting occasionally scratched.
What's going on here is the furthest thing from "world class," a term Ledecky used some time ago to characterize his vision of the franchise's future. What has happened instead, on the ice anyway, has been an insult to a fan base that is constantly being ridiculed because it shows faith in a team that has in no way lived up to its end of the bargain.
It's hard to believe that the Islanders could bottom out this quickly following such a meteoric rise, but they are threatening to revisit their own version of the Dark Ages. And everyone involved seems powerless or too stubborn to prevent it.
What we have seen so far has been inexcusable and heads really need to start rolling.
Read more columns by Jeff Capellini and follow him on Twitter at @GreenLanternJet
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