And no, I'm not talking about the amount of work they will have to do IF the Lighthouse Project ever passes.
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The Islanders had a typical let down Saturday, scoring three goals in a solid 50 minutes of hockey to watch it fade away in the final 10, losing in the shootout to a team they had all but beaten in regulation.
Monday they had a chance to make up for it with a matinee game against Ryan Smyth and the Los Angeles Kings. Well, they didn't. Matt Moulson made it a one-goal game with not much time left in the third and low-and-behold their OT losing streak comes to an end with a loss in regulation.
Now the Islanders need to dig deep.
If they had won the game against the Kings they would have been 1-0-3, still avoiding a loss in regulation with a very young team. Instead now they have done everything but earn a "W."
Right now we are seeing the difference between the Islanders and a team that will contend for the playoffs. They lack the ability to close out games and are bound to make mistakes, and when they do, the veterans such as Marc Savard are going to turn around and rip a shot over Dwayne Roloson's shoulder, or Biron is going to get beat late in the third since Jarret Stoll had plenty of team to feed Drew Doughty for the put-away goal.
But hey, that's fine.
Yeah, I said that's fine. They are a young team and are going to make these mistakes and I much rather see them made early in the season and later watch a competitive hockey team that has learned something come January. That's not to say that I expect to see perfection; this team already looks more poised and in control of themselves in Gordon's system than they did last year, but they will still have plenty of learning to do mid-season. I just expect them to be much more competitive around that time of year and almost fool many fans into thinking they might finish in 8th place. But those mistakes that will come in the second-half of the year will be the difference maker.
This team will also start to find success once they get scoring from other than their top line. In four games, Streit, Hunter, Martinek, and Sim are the only other skaters to have scored a goal besides the trio of Okposo, Tavares, and Moulson. Bailey and Schremp have only recorded one assist with Bergenheim and Comeau still looking for their first point. They need to find their games and find it fast, otherwise we're going to see more losses pile up in regulation.
I can't say much for Schremp since he was not here last season, but as I've said before, Bergenheim, Bailey, and Comeau need to be the players they were in the second-half of last year right off the bat. So far they all seem to be struggling a little bit. It may be a result of the line-juggling that has been going on with players going in and out of the line-up, but the sooner they click with their linemates the better.
Friday night the Isles make a visit to Buffalo. Hopefully the digging will start up north.
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