Just over three weeks ago, the New York Islanders were clinging to a wildcard berth and now with an eight-game losing streak on hand, New York is looking up from a distance as they find themselves eight points back of a playoff spot, almost guaranteeing another disappointing year in New York. After being eliminated from the playoffs on the final game of the year last season, that makes for two disappointing years for soon-to-be unrestricted free agent John Tavares.
The Hockey News’ Jared Clinton writes that this eight-game losing streak comes at a one of the worst times of the year — right during their playoff run — which will only hurt the Islanders’ chances of re-signing the all-star, who has already broken the 30-goal plateau this year for the fourth time in his career. While it might have been exciting to play for one of the top offenses in the league earlier this year, Clinton writes that since Dec. 1, the Islanders offense has been average at best, tied 12th in the league, averaging 2.88 goals per game. Considering the holes in both the Islanders defense and goaltending, there definitely seems to be a lot of negatives that Tavares will have to sort out in the coming months.
- Newsday’s Neil Best tries to figure out the meaning of Tavares’ comments last Monday in Vancouver after the team suffered a disappointing overtime loss. Tavares said, “Obviously, this isn’t a whole lot of fun right now,” causing a frenzy of reaction from both unhappy Islanders fans and elated NHL fans hoping their team can steal the star player for themselves. Tavares was quick to say the comment had nothing to do with his feelings about the franchise or his willingness to re-sign. “I’m sure when people look at the way our team’s going, they want to speculate,” he said. “They speculate on teams that have won eight in a row, too. I just control what I control. It’s just other people talking. I’m sure there’s interest, but I can’t worry about that. That doesn’t have really much to do with me, what other people think or what they think what I say means. I have always said how committed I am to this team, this organization, the guys in the locker room. I mean, losing eight in a row isn’t very much fun.”
- After some impressive performances in goal for New York’s Christopher Gibson, several players were clamoring for the 25-year-old to get more playing time as the team is floundering over their past eight games, according to The Athletic’s Arthur Staple (subscription required). Gibson, who has led the team to two overtime games (both losses) has performed admirably as he boasts a 1.86 GAA and a .953 save percentage in his only two NHL appearances this season. He had a 2.31 GAA and a .909 save percentage in 33 AHL games this season. “He’s played phenomenal, starting in Pitt and again here tonight,” defenseman Brandon Davidson said. “I think he’s kind of earned the right to be the guy.” Gibson is sharing time with starter Jaroslav Halak, while backup Thomas Greiss is injured.
- In another piece, Staple points a finger at Islanders defenseman Nick Leddy, who is most likely the team’s top defenseman, writing that his game has slowly gone south like the direction the team is heading. After putting up 20 points in his first 28 games, both his offense and defense seems to have fallen off. Leddy, who still has four years remaining on his contract, holds a plus/minus rating of -33, which is second-worst in the league next to Arizona’s Oliver Ekman-Larsson. And despite his early offensive output, he also has had just 18 points in the last 40 games. Staple writes that Leddy is a key cog to the team’s defense and probably the most important as veteran Johnny Boychuk will be 35 next year and the team is likely to lose Calvin de Haan in free agency.