In the 1981 cult classic, Escape From New York, Kurt Russell was tasked with rescuing the President of the United States from New York City, which had been recreated as a maximum security prison.
Things aren’t quite that bad for the 2015-16 New York Islanders, but all in all, they’re glad to be traveling to California.
“I think it will be good to get away to get a little team bonding,” Frans Nielsen said after Sunday’s 2-1 loss to the Boston Bruins at Barclays Center. The Islanders have lost five of their last eight and six of 10 overall. “Last year it was the California trip that kind of turned the whole season around us. So hopefully we will come back with a little confidence again.”
The primary issue has been an offensive attack that has been non-existent. Dating back to the Oct. 29 overtime loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, the Islanders have scored nine goals while allowing 15 in six games.
“Our game was sporadic,” said Jack Capuano following the 2-1 win over the Devils on Nov. 3 at Barclays. “We mismanaged the puck at certain times and couldn’t exit the [defensive] zone. But our goaltender made some big saves on their power play, and the fourth line gave us energy. Guys went to the net hard and they got rewarded.”
Indeed, in that game, Brock Nelson opened the scoring with a jam shot goal 7:23 in, and Casey Cizikas won the game by redirecting Matt Martin’s shot past Cory Schneider with 2:12 left.
“The guys who are scoring goals are the guys who are going to those gritty areas. Goaltenders are too good; you’re not going to score from the perimeter against them. It’s going to be a shot off the pads or a rebound or a greasy play in front of the net,” Capuano said before analyzing his fourth line. “They know who they are and what their responsibility is. Very few times do I move [Cal] Clutterbuck up [to a different line]; for the most part, we’ve kept those guys where they need to be. They give us great energy, and they know their role. They’re not going to make the sexy play all the time; they’re going to chip pucks in and grind it out.”
In the current NHL, it is imperative to have a fourth line that is defensively responsible and can contribute offensively for teams that have Stanley Cup Playoff aspirations. And the Islanders believe themselves to be a team that will find itself in the playoffs come the spring.
But, before that can happen, they need to right their ship. Already, the Islanders have demoted Ryan Strome, the fifth overall pick in the 2011 draft to AHL Bridgeport following 12 games at the NHL level this season in which he recorded one goal and four assists. In 81 games last season, all with the Islanders, he had 17 goals and 33 assists for 50 points.
Capuano made another bold player personnel prior to the loss to the Bruins, as he scratched Josh Bailey in favor of Taylor Beck. Beck had three hits in 8:56 of ice time against Boston.
“We’re not scoring so it’s frustrating,” John Tavares said. The Islanders outshot the Bruins, 37-27, but failed on six of seven power plays. “We have to work through it.
“It’s all we can do."