(Long Island, N.Y.) It would be easy to use all of the arena/possible moving talks as a distraction, but the New York Islanders are playing so bad that can’t even be used as an excuse. The 2011-12 NHL season is still young, per say, but the team is already entrenched in last place in not only the Atlantic Division but Eastern Conference, as well, with only 13 points. If it were not for the also-hapless Columbus Bluejackets (12 points), the Isles would trail the entire league.
They have now lost 12 of their last 14 games and are still winless (0-5-2) away from the “friendly” confines of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. In their most recent contests – both losses, of course – the Islanders have been outscored 11-0. That’s embarrassing and something that needs to be addressed before it gets even worse, if that’s possible.
Head coach Jack Capuano should be looking over his shoulder if he isn’t already, knowing that it was a similar situation a year ago that resulted in him taking over for the fired Scott Gordon. Although general manager Garth Snow recently told Newsday that he “has no intention to replace our coach,” that can be the kiss of death at times.
Capuano did admit to ESPNNewYork.com’s Katie Strang that recent meetings with his GM covered many topics, but his job status was not one of them. “We’ve got to ignite some fire into our lineup,” the second-year coach told Strang. “I talked to Garth about that and we’ll see what takes place for our roster (versus the Philadelphia Flyers).”
Part of that spark that Capuano is looking for is from the netminder, and that position has been a revolving door of three candidates without one coming through strongly enough to be considered the obvious frontrunner. So far, the Islanders have been going with the hot hand.
Al Montoya has been the most consistent with a 2-2-1 mark and a 2.43 goals against average. Rick DiPietro has a similar record (one added tie to go along with the .500 win/loss), but his GGA is higher at 3.35. Evengi Nabokov has a decent GAA (2.83), but is 1-5. Anders Nilsson has played in two games and is 0-1, 4.85 GAA.
But the main issue is not who is stopping potential goals, but scoring them. There is not one player with double-digit goal totals on the roster. Center John Tavares leads the squad with 16 points (eight goals, eight assists) and has four power play tallies. But following him, the stat sheet is akin to a Bingo board in the early rounds.
There is so much going on behind the scenes with the plans for a refurbished Coliseum and what the options are if that does not occur. The last thing that owner Charles Wang wants to do is move out of Long Island – or even New York, for that matter. But the reality of the situation is that the more the team struggles, the possibility of them moving to somewhere such as Kansas City becomes even greater.
The pattern has been set and the team’s doldrums grow with each loss.