The Islanders have gone 2-9-0 in their past 11 games heading into the Olympic break, lowering their spot in the standings to a disappointing 13th seed with 58 points, trailing the 8th place Montreal Canadiens by 6 points while only maintaining 3-point lead over the Carolina Hurricanes.
"It would have definitely been more enjoyable if we had a bunch of wins before the break," said defenseman Andy Sutton after the Valentine's Day show-down with the Ottawa Senators. Although he has been a subject of trade rumors recently, he is still focused on what his team can do to make the playoffs.
"It's gonna take us being one of the best teams in the league for twenty games," he said. "We've done it before. We've rounded off nine wins in ten games before, we got to do that type of thing."
Yes, they have done that before this season, but that has also been when the Isles were able to find some secondary scoring and Moulson, Tavares and Okposo were finding their way on the scoresheet together each night.
It also certainly doesn't help that Dwayne Roloson, the player who probably would have been the lone all-star if there were an All-Star weekend this year, has lost his last five starts. In his defense, many of the losses were not his fault. The Islanders went 0-11 on the power play this weekend, an area in which the team has struggled all season long. They even started the third period against the Senators with a 5-on-3 and failed to connect.
"It's not in my control. All I got to do is stop the puck," said Roloson. "Some times you get a chance to get a win. Some times you don't. It's not in my control. I control the things I can and that's to do what I can do to help our guys win."
Roloson did everything he could to keep them in the game Sunday night but found no help from his forwards, whether it be on offense or defense. The game-winning goal scored by Mike Fisher of the Sens is a clear-cut example. Sutton was covering his man in front while Meyer attended to the Sens forward with the puck in the corner. Tavares failed to cover Fisher who was standing all alone at the top of Dwayne's crease just waiting for a gentle re-direction to close the coffin on this Valentine's Day heartbreak.
As usual after a loss, head coach Scott Gordon seemed visibly frustrated during the press-conference.
"We'll put it behind us. We got plenty of time before our next game," he said. "We could have won some games if we scored some goals." It's not a mystery to anyone. The Islanders need to find some offense to help out their goalies if they plan on making a run to the playoffs.
Gordon didn't have much to say as he was in a rush to catch a 9:45 PM flight to Vancouver to head to the Olympic games. The media were told one last question, which Chris Botta delivered quickly. Before we could all disperse another reporter asked if Gordon really had a 9:45 PM flight, which Scott confirmed. He then proceeded to ask a second question asking if he was really going to make it, and Gordon replied, "If you stop asking questions." He was joking, and patted the reporter on his arm with a smile on his face.
He probably was anxious and excited to head out for another Olympic experience. Gordon was an assistant coach to the U.S. Men's National Team at the 2009 IIHF World Men's Championship and was a member of the 1992 U.S. Olympic Men's Team that participated in the Winter Games in Albertville, France. Ironically, he will be combining his assistant coaching duties with New York Rangers head coach, John Tortorella, along with Toronto Maple Leafs and Team USA head coach, Ron Wilson.
When Gordon returns with Swiss captain Mark Streit, the Islanders will have plenty of work to get done if they intend to be on the ice after game 82 instead of on the green.
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