The losses continue to pile up for the New York Islanders, who are in the middle of their worst stretch of the season. After a 5-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs, they lost to the Ottawa Senators 2-1, closing out their short Canadian road trip without a point.
Related: Islanders Should Trade Scott Mayfield to the Maple Leafs
The Islanders have now lost six games in a row for the first time this season. The last time they did that was at the start of last season when an 11-game losing streak extinguished their hopes of making the playoffs. The losing streak ended their season early and the current one is leading the Islanders to another disappointing year. They had Stanley Cup aspirations but after the 2-1 loss to the Senators, they look like a team that will miss the playoffs for the second year in a row.
Islanders Offense Continues to Struggle
Before the game, general manager (GM) Lou Lamoriello was asked about the team’s struggles, specifically, the offensive woes. He mentioned that the goal scorers need to score, hinting that the Islanders’ best forwards have disappeared. The problem on offense was once again on full display in the game that followed.
The Islanders scored one goal in the loss against the Senators. They’ve only scored eight goals in the last five games and only 18 goals in the last 11 games, resulting in a 1-7-3 record in that span. The offense has been hapless, most notably in the top-six. Looking at the notable forwards on the Islanders in the last 10 games, it’s easy to see how the production has been underwhelming.
- Brock Nelson: Three goals.
- Anders Lee: Three goals.
- Mathew Barzal: One goal.
- Zach Parise: Two goals.
- Anthony Beauvillier: One goal.
- Jean-Gabriel Pageau: Zero goals.
The players that are supposed to carry the Islanders and be the star players in the offense have been anything but. They’ve become liabilities and are the reason the team is experiencing a collapse halfway through the season. Not only are the Islanders out of the playoff picture, but they also look like one of the worst teams in the league, mostly because of the hapless offense.
Islanders Special Teams Kill Them
The Islanders’ power play remains a weak point on the roster. On the man advantage, they don’t have a noticeable plan when they have the puck and often struggle to establish an offensive zone presence, making scoring opportunities a rare occurrence. The power play failed to score in all three opportunities against the Senators and the unit has only scored three times in the last 58 opportunities.
To add to the rough night for the special teams, the penalty kill, which has been a strength for the Islanders this season, allowed the game-winning goal. The Senators’ offense also struggled in this game, but they took advantage of their power play and found the back of the net. A lot of the games the Islanders have lost have been decided on special teams and the power play struggles continue to hurt them.
Varlamov’s Bounce Back in the Net
The one bright spot for the Islanders was the performance they received from goaltender Semyon Varlamov. He saved 36 of the 38 shots he faced and made multiple strong saves to give the Islanders a chance to come back and win the game. While the offense struggled, resulting in another tough defeat, his performance was a promising sign for a team looking to rebound from a rough stretch.
After struggling in a 4-1 loss against the Boston Bruins, where he only saved 20 of the 24 shots he faced, Varlamov needed a bounce back in the net. He had one and kept the Islanders in the game until the end. It was another loss that showed how goaltending can give the Islanders a chance to win but ultimately can’t carry the team. He looked great, but the Senators only needed two goals to come away with the victory.
Other Takeaways From the Islanders’ Loss
- Nelson scored the only goal for the Islanders, it was his 18th of the season. He leads the team in goals and despite his recent offensive struggles, has scored three goals in the last four games.
- Scott Mayfield blocked five shots in only 18:50 of ice time. He rebounded from the disappointing effort against the Maple Leafs and was one of the best defensemen on the team in the recent game.
- Senators’ goaltender Cam Talbot left the game early with an injury but Anton Forsberg stepped in and saved 21 of the 22 shots he faced. It speaks volumes to the ineptitude of the Islanders’ offense as they found the back of the net only once against a goaltender that was thrown into the game unprepared.
What’s Next for the Islanders
The Islanders head back to UBS Arena for two home games on back-to-back nights against the Detroit Red Wings and Vegas Golden Knights. They lost to the Red Wings 3-0 on Nov. 5 and defeated the Golden Knights 5-2 on Dec. 17, but both meetings were earlier in the season when the team looked like one of the best in the Eastern Conference.
With the losing streak reaching six games, the Islanders are just looking to win the next game on their schedule and get back on track. They need to rebound, not only to save the strong start but to avoid a possible rebuild and significant changes to the team at the trade deadline and subsequent offseason.