The Rangers aren’t the only New York Metropolitan area NHL team that’s struggling these days.
Just look to Brooklyn.
Following Sunday night’s 3-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Islanders have dropped four of their last five.
"It wasn't one of our better efforts,” Jack Capuano said. “I just worry about the way we played. Tonight we had some guys that struggling. We are team than cannot have passengers. We need all 20 guys going. Tonight, quite honestly, we didn’t.”
Against the Leafs, the Islanders were outshot 38-26, and out-attempted 68-66. More concerning was their inability to consistently generate sustained offensive pressure in the offensive zone. As such, Jonathan Bernier only had to make 25 saves. The same Jonathan Bernier who entered the game with a 2-9-3 mark in 14 games with a 3.21 goals against average and .889 save percentage, and had to be sent to the Leafs’ AHL affiliate in an attempt to find his game.
"We passed up some opportunities. Their defense did a good job blocking shots,” Capuano said. “"We want to shoot pucks. For whatever reason tonight we passed up chances when we should have been shooting pucks.”
During the five game window, the Islanders have marginally outshot their opponents—Florida, Colorado, Arizona, Anaheim and Toronto—by an aggregate 150-142. That breaks down to a per game average of 30-28.4.
Delving further into statistics, the Islanders have been outscored 13-8 in those five games.
“We weren’t managing the puck well, starting with myself,” John Tavares said. “We have to be a lot better. You’re not going to dominate for 60 minutes in this league but you have to make it tough on the opponent. We just made it a little too easy. They made some plays and put us behind the 8 ball.”
It is under this cloud that the Islanders enter a potentially significant week. Trailing the Rangers by one point for second place in the Metropolitan Division, the Islanders travel to Toronto Tuesday, visit Buffalo Thursday and renew acquaintances with the Penguins in Pittsburgh Saturday night before returning to Barclays Sunday for a date with Western Conference-leading Dallas and the first meeting with the Capitals since the seven-game first round series last spring.
While the home games against Dallas and Washington are marquee dates, an argument can be made that the Islanders need to leave Toronto, Buffalo and Pittsburgh with points.
But in order to do that, Capuano believes the Islanders need more production from their more skilled players. Against the Leafs, Ryan Strome finished with four shot attempts in 16:03 of ice time. Kyle Okposo had three shots on goal and attempted five shots in 19:39; Anders Lee recorded five shots and seven attempts in 13:10, and Brock Nelson totaled three shots and five attempts in 15:28.
"There were certain guys for whatever reason were given minutes on good lines and they didn't accept the challenge,” Capuano said. “I thought we were too easy to play against in certain areas tonight."