New York Islanders fans were fed up for weeks as the team’s big offseason signings, Jason Chimera and Andrew Ladd went scoreless through the first 12 games of the season. But Monday’s 4-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks saw both light the lamp and perhaps signal the beginning of what’s to come from the two offensively.
Ladd, Chimera get Monkeys off Their Back
While Ladd and Chimera’s droughts felt like an eternity, there have been several goal droughts that went much longer. According to New York Islanders statistician Eric Hornick, forwards Wyatt Smith went 42 games without scoring a goal for the Islanders in 2005-06. It took Marty Reasoner 56 games in 2011-12 to light the lamp in the blue and orange. And those aren’t even the longest streaks. Stay-at-home defenseman Steve Staios went 65 games without a goal 2011-12, while Matt Carkner went 75 (across the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons) and ‘80s tough guy Brian Curran didn’t score a goal in 90 appearances in New York from 1986-88.
“It’s big for Jason and me, getting that good feeling that you can put a puck on net and it goes in,” Ladd told Newsday on Monday. “We got two points. We can still shore up some areas, but it’s what we needed.”
Goals Still Coming
While Ladd and Chimera’s scoring is important to the team’s overall success, the team, ironically, hasn’t been struggling offensively. Monday’s game against the Canucks saw 12 different plays get on the scoresheet, while the defense continues to play an active role in creating opportunities. Simply put, the Isles’ absence of a real secondary scoring threat to support John Tavares isn’t the problem, despite the fact that JT has already had a slew of different linemates already. The hodgepodge of lines coach Jack Capuano puts out every night can score, even no one knows where the tallies will come from on any given night.
Sitting seventh in the NHL in goals, the team could improve by finding ways to score on the power play and stay out of the box, as well as limit high percentage scoring opportunities from the opposition. Ranked 26th on both the penalty kill and with the man advantage and 23rd in goals against, the Islanders’ issues have more to do with the play of their goaltenders, mainly Jaroslav Halak, and not the underachieving Ladd and Chimera.
Goaltending the Larger Issue
Evidenced by his Wade Dubielewicz-esque attempt at a poke check during the team’s shootout loss to the Oilers on Nov. 5 in a game they should have won, Halak is looking to make the big play, rather than letting it come to him. Playing the puck more erratic than ever, Halak is not the same goaltender he was last season or two seasons ago. With less practice time, he’s on edge. His performance against the Canucks was a solid one, but again, this was a game the team should have won.
In order for the Islanders to climb out of the 5-6-2 spot they’ve put themselves in, getting consistent goaltending and not relying on the obviously over-hyped offense of Chimera and Ladd, will get them back in contention for a playoff spot.