Monday, February 4, 2008

Tough times on the Isle

I've said all season that this Islanders team was a playoff team and I still believe that -- but they sure aren't playing like one and it's safe to say those postseason hopes are in jeopardy.

The losing streak increased to four with Saturday's 4-1 loss at Montreal, and while Rick DiPietro looked fantastic over All-Star weekend, nothing else has gone right for the Isles. Consider that in the last four games the Islanders have been outscored, 13-5, with the offense managing just one meager goal on three occasions. The Isles have also been less than dominant at home, going 13-11-3 so far.

In the first game back from the break, the Isles fell at home to Ottawa, 5-2, after spotting the Sens a 3-0 lead. They battled back to 3-2 but that was as close as it got.

OK, but Ottawa is a tough assignment. Surely they'd break out of it against the last-place Kings, right? Nope - another home loss, this time 3-1. Dubie played well in relief of an ill D.P., but there was precious little to feel good about. Ted Nolan hit the nail on the head when he called the effort 'unacceptable.' The Isles have a thin margin of error, and when the effort -- which has been strong most of the season -- isn't there, they have big problems.

Another bad stretch doomed the Isles against Montreal. The Habs scored three goals in the second period to put the hammer down and drop the Islanders into last place in the division and 10th place in the conference.

Sure, there's plenty of season left, but the Isles are in in the middle of an eight-team battle for the final two playoff spots so things need to turn around in a hurry. And with the Feb. 26 trading deadline fast approaching, does Garth Snow deal some of his promising young players for an impact player on offense? Does Kyle Okposo come up and make his mark?

The turnaround could start Tuesday night at home against the Ducks.

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