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Islanders Mailbag: ‘Healthy Scratch Clutterbuck Needs To Be A Thing’



New York Islanders Cal Clutterbuck

The New York Islanders were not sharp in their 5-1 loss to the Washington Capitals Saturday night. The defensive mistakes proved costly, while the lack of offense gave them little to no chance at coming away with two points, let alone one.

Cal Clutterbuck returned to the lineup, and head coach Lane Lambert tried him up and down the lineup, but couldn’t find a clear spot for him.

Islanders Out of Sorts in Clutterbuck’s Return, Lose 5-1 to Capitals

Now the Islanders head out to California for three games, currently holding down the second wild-card spot with a three-point lead over the Florida Panthers.

Let’s get to your questions and comments:

I know they can’t win them all, but they have to look better than they did tonight (@conti129)

Unfortunately, the New York Islanders aren’t in a position to lose to teams behind them, but they did win three of four, and winning out the rest of the season wasn’t realistic. However, as much as it doesn’t matter how a team loses at this point in the season, the Islanders struggled mightily to get shots on goal and collapsed defensively–beating themselves in a way.

It made for a tough night and an ugly loss to a struggling team.

Sorokin/Varly isn’t the issue. Not fighting for the inches was the issue. Isles played a very passive game. Allowed the Caps to take between the hash marks away and never really tried to drive the net. Caps dictated the play. (@poniesNpucks).

Goaltending was definitely not the issue on Saturday night. Lane Lambert said after the game that his team passed up shots and didn’t get nearly enough shots on Darcy Kuemper, who isn’t one of the premier goaltenders in the NHL.

The Islanders seemed tired, despite having a day off. Having to come back often in games does that to you. They were out of sorts and didn’t seem to have anything going. They also looked extremely slow on the rush, not just physically but with their decision-making.

Is it sustainable to have a rotating right wing while Barzal is out? I think EVERY forward not on the “2nd” has played top-line mins since Barzal was injured. (@Andyhicks1982)

I mean, the Islanders have gone 6-2-1 with Mathew Barzal out of the lineup, so they have done a pretty good job with a rotating right winger. Even Cal Clutterbuck, in his return to the lineup, played on the top line.

Obviously, it’s not ideal, and it’s in Lane Lambert’s best interest to find the right line combinations with little time.

If the Islanders do make the postseason, the best players are going to play, and the Islanders aren’t going to worry about lines too much, which is a dangerous game. They need Jean-Gabriel Pageau back in the worst way, to be able to run four lines.

Why change the lineup? Why not start Sorokin? I just don’t understand these decisions. Need a smarter coach if we’re gonna win a chess match in the playoffs. (@holidaymatinee)

The New York Islanders had won three straight games entering their Saturday nightcap against the Washington Capitals. Ilya Sorokin had started eight of the last 10 games and seemed a bit tired over his last two. Even in the comeback win over Pittsburgh, you could tell by his movements that he wasn’t at 100 percent.

And the Islanders had the luxury of turning to Semyon Varlamov, who shut out the Winnipeg Jets in his last start. So they did, and Varlamov wasn’t the reason for the loss.

As for the lineup, Lambert wouldn’t keep Clutterbuck on the bench if he was ready. However, he must find a place to use him properly, or his addition throws things a bit out of wack. Also, Otto Koivula is day-to-day with a lower-body injury, so Lambert didn’t have an option.

Healthy scratch Clutterbuck needs to be a thing (@Judge2Stanton)

After missing 20 games, and after 12:36, you want the Islanders to healthy scratch Cal Clutterbuck for?

He did have four shots in the game as he tried to find his legs. More importantly, he finished the game with no issues.

It’s been clear that Ross Johnston is not a realistic everyday player in this lineup, as he had the chance to play with everyone out, but call-ups were given an opportunity over him.

Brock doesn’t have more than 2 SOG in the last 8 games. He’s the isles best shooter, and the team is missing key weapons. Bit weird. (@smilesandisles)

That is a very interesting stat. Brock Nelson has 11 shots over the last eight games, 1.38 shots per game. Over that span, he has just two goals.

It’s hard to knock Nelson, who has been a force this season with some slumps trickled in. However, Saturday night was the first time I saw Nelson pass up a few shots. It was surprising when he got on a two-on-one that he elected to pass, given how lethal his shot has been.

He is also coming off scoring the overtime winner against the Penguins off a strong shot, so his confidence in his release should not be lacking.

They earned 9 out of a possible 10 points in their last 5 games. A clunker was bound to happen. Rather it now than next month. Go 2-0-1 or 2-1 out west against 2 feeble teams, and try to earn a point vs. a very hot LA team. (@USMC03171)

When you drop a game you shouldn’t, that means you need to go and win a game that might be a more difficult one. The Islanders could make Saturday night an afterthought if they could go on a tear out west, which is hard to do.

The San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks are at the bottom of the league, and four points against them are beyond critical to remain in a wild-card spot. The Los Angeles Kings, despite losing Saturday night in a shootout to the Nashville Predators, are on fire, unbeaten in regulation over their last five games.

But if the Islanders can start their strip by handing LA a loss, things bode well for them on the trip. Even a point would be monumental.

Do you think the Islanders organization will look back at this past trade deadline and deeply regret not trading Varlamov and Mayfield for some valuable present and future assets? (@aa19273179).

The answer to this question entirely depends on whether they already have Semyon Varlamov and Scott Mayfield locked up. Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello works in mysterious ways.

However, suppose the Islanders fail to make the postseason and both players walk, then yeah. In that case, it will be regrettable not getting anything for those two players that could easily have brought back second-round picks, if not first-round ones.

If the New York Islanders make the postseason, then no, there will be no regret.