With just 11 games remaining this season and six losses over their last ten games, the New York Islanders need to press the reset button. Costly turnovers in their own end and an inconsistent offense have been their Achilles heel over the last stretch. With a game against the Rangers on Wednesday, they’ll need to get back to business quickly in order to save their season.
Hamonic Gettin’ Hammered
Although the team is struggling as a whole, there are several players who can be singled out. One player desperately in need of a fresh start is defenseman Travis Hamonic. Last season at this time, Hamonic was quietly having one of the best seasons of his career. Aggressive both on and off the puck, Hamonic was a leader. His ability to make solid passes in his own end was a source of dependability for the Isles as well.
A lot of Hamonic’s stellar play last season had to do with his clearly-defined niche. He was a shutdown and physical defender who got some power play time and contributed on both ends. With Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk providing offense as well, Hamonic settled into the number three spot on the Islanders’ defense almost perfectly. The value his presence brought to the team was undebatable.
At the same time, the season for Hamonic was a stressful one off the ice. Highly coveted by the rest of the league and demanding a trade early in the season to deal with family issues, Hamonic was seen as a player the Islanders needed. The thought, however, was that he’d be gone by the offseason. However, by the end of the season, Hamonic revoked his request to be moved. All was finally well in Islander country. Not so fast. This season, Hamonic has been a shell of his former self. He’s like a declawed tiger at this point.
Lower Expectations Leading to Sloppy Play?
While injuries have slowed him down this season, it’s fair to say Hamonic is the Islanders’ number six defenseman right now. If the Islanders are to make the playoffs, Hamonic needs to simplify. He must become the player he was in the past. He’s got to think better on the fly in his own end. He’s got to get his snarl back.
With the Islanders getting surprise offense and dependability from Calvin de Haan and Dennis Seidenberg, Hamonic doesn’t have nearly as much pressure on him. Times have changed. He doesn’t have to be perfect and he doesn’t have to play 25 minutes anymore. Because of that you’d think he’d be better, right? His goal the other night against the Blue Jackets is definitely a step in the right direction, but there’s no excuse for his minus-20. None at all.
Hamonic Needs his Groove Back
At the moment, the Islanders are still in the thick of the race for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. If they are to claim it, they need to surge. They’ll need more than what they’ve gotten out of Hamonic this season, especially if they play the Capitals. If they are to shock the world and get to the second round for a second consecutive season, Hamonic has to be a factor.
Over the past ten years as a working journalist, Patrick Hickey Jr. has covered the New York Islanders, New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils, as well as the Brooklyn Aces of the former EPHL, contributing pieces and/or holding Editorial positions at NBC, New York Sports Day, NY Sportscene Magazine and the New York Times. During that time, he has interviewed NHL stars the likes of Brendan Shanahan, Bernie Nicholls, Bob Probert, Martin Brodeur and Zach Parise. He is also the first winner of the New York Islanders Blog of the Year Award, for his work on TheDriveForFive.com in 2008.