The New York Islanders wrapped up a five-game road trip on Sunday with an overtime loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, their second of the sort in as many days. Where the Islanders started the trip and where they ended it were two very different places and despite it still being early in the year, it needs to serve as a wake-up call for the team to get it into gear.
The Islanders found some more consistency in the final two games in Philadelphia, but that hadn’t been the case for the better part of the trip. In Washington and in New Jersey, the Islanders looked out of sorts and played a style that was far from what many have come to expect under Barry Trotz.
Their inconsistent play and stretches where the Islanders spent most of the time in their own end doomed them. And solid starts by rookie goaltender Ilya Sorokin have gone by the waist side after not being able to produce wins for him in two starts over the road trip.
The positive side to all of this is that if nothing else, the Islanders are aware that this needs to be a moment they learn from and rise to the occasion their next game out.
“When we’re successful we see how we’re playing and we need to translate that to a full 60 minutes,” Nick Leddy said following Sunday’s loss. “I think coming out and doing that right from the get-go. We’ve had some so-so starts and the teams have capitalized on them. A couple of mistakes, me included, have definitely got to be better. We just have to improve and keep improving and get back to it on Tuesday.”
One of the biggest issues the Islanders faced during the trip — and since the start of the season — has been their inconsistency in their play and their struggles to bury the puck in the net first. During the five-game swing held the lead only twice during that stretch and scored the game’s first goal only twice.
The New York Islanders are 0-3-2 when they don’t score the game’s first goal and 3-1-0 when they do this year.
And it’s clear what a difference it can make for the Islanders. New York was the better team in the first period of Sunday’s overtime loss at Wells Fargo Center. The Islanders held a 13-6 edge in shots and controlled the pace of the play, but they couldn’t find the back of the net.
An error with just over a minute in the first allowed the Flyers to take the 1-0 lead into the intermission.
“This is the NHL, you’re playing great teams and we have a tough division,” Josh Bailey said. “I have a lot of respect for every team in our division. Teams are going to have their pushes and it’s really just sticking to our identity in those times, and when they get those chances. Try and limit those quality chances as much as we can.”
“I think as a team we’re all working together. We’ve got a tight-knit group with a lot of character in that room. We’re going to find a way to right the ship and get the results that we need.”
Bailey ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/HJeqz0Hsjf
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) February 1, 2021
The New York Islanders will return home to the Nassau Coliseum on Tuesday with a chance to right the ship a bit. Saturday and Sunday’s losses showed some promise of a swing in the right direction for the Islanders, but to dig themselves back out of the hole they’ll need to clean up their game.
The Buffalo Sabres are just 4-4-2 in their first 10 games of the year and could provide the springboard the Islanders need.
“Guys are going out there and working,” Anders Lee said. “There’s plays and stuff where we can be better and work smarter at times, but I don’t think it’s something where guys are along for the ride or anything like that. That’s not part of our identity and if it is it gets corrected right away. We just have to find a way to put a couple of extra pucks in and keep one or two out.”