Trailing a playoff series 2-0 after dropping the first two games on home ice isn’t necessarily an ideal situation.
That’s where the New York Islanders stand, though, following a pair of disappointing results to open up the second round against the Carolina Hurricanes.
As expected, the Hurricanes are providing the Islanders with as close a mirror image to their likeness as possible.
These teams are not the most talented but have overachieved this season based off a system that stresses the team as a whole far more than the individual players.
While this system has allowed the Islanders to cause their opponents fits — including the Pittsburgh Penguins in a first-round series sweep — the Hurricanes are providing the Islanders with a taste of their own medicine.
A structured defense, coupled with the stalwart goaltending of Petr Mrazek, has seen the Islanders score just a single goal over the first two games of the series.
Puck luck hasn’t been the Islanders’ friend, either, as Jordan Eberle, Josh Bailey and Ryan Pulock hit either the post or crossbar in the final 10 minutes of the 2-1 loss in Game 2 on Sunday.
The Islanders have, in fact, had an upper hand throughout the early portions of this series as they have the edge in scoring and high-danger chances and expected goals.
Carolina has just been able to get it done in Brooklyn.
A 2-0 deficit isn’t a foreign concept to Islanders head coach Barry Trotz, though, which makes this a navigatable situation despite the series shifting to Carolina for Games 3 and 4.
Last season, Trotz’s Washington Capitals dropped the first two games at home in their first-round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets before winning the next four.
With the series resuming on Wednesday for Game 3, the Islanders also have the advantage of health.
While Mrazek has been basically unbeatable, he’s day-to-day after suffering a lower-body injury with 13:13 left in the second period. Second-string goalie Curtis McElhinney came on and saved the final 16 shots of the game, but the abundance of posts and missed opportunities suggest that he is plenty beatable.
Carolina will also be without defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk, who suffered a shoulder injury in the first minute of Game 2 after taking a hard hit from Cal Clutterbuck. He will be out indefinitely and is set to be replaced by 22-year-old Haydn Fleury, who has only played in 20 games this season.
Clutterbuck, a third of the Islanders’ vaunted fourth line, left Game 2 in the final moments with an injury. He would be replaced by Michael Dal Colle if he’s unavailable for Game 3.
Tuesday morning’s skate saw Dal Colle skating with the Islanders’ second line of Brock Nelson and Josh Bailey while Tom Kuhnhackl joined Casey Cizikas and Matt Martin on the fourth.
But Clutterbuck’s injury didn’t happen before another Hurricanes player went down as Saku Maenalanen left Game 2 early in the third as a result of blocking a shot from Adam Pelech.
Maenalanan, van Riemsdyk and Mrazek join Jordan Martinook, Michael Ferland and Andrei Svechnikov as key starters on the injured list. Svechnikov may be ready for Game 3 as he recovers from a concussion suffered during a first-round fight with Capitals star Alex Ovechkin as he skated with the team on Tuesday morning.
It should have the Islanders ready to pounce on the shorthanded Hurricanes in Game 3 as they look to tighten up the series.