New York Islanders need to start taking advantage of circumstances

The New York Islanders . (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
The New York Islanders . (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

The New York Islanders are winless in their last five games and are in dire need of a victory tonight against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Pittsburgh comes into this game with a 5-4-1 record, which is good for the no. 4 spot in the East Division. However, the visitors have been dealing with the injury bug as they have nine players out, seven of them being defensemen.

Pittsburgh Head Coach Mike Sullivan stated earlier today that some of these missing players, including Kris Letang, could play tonight.

Regardless, the Penguins have a depleted backend, and the Islanders must take advantage. With Tristan Jarry starting tonight, who’s struggled mightily this season with a .859 Save Percentage and a 3.92 Goals Against Advantage, the Islanders have an opportunity to score at a higher rate than they have been previously. This season, when the Islanders’ opponents have been faced with unfortunate circumstances, they have failed to make the most of the opportunities.

On Jan 21, the Islanders hosted the New Jersey Devils, who were without their starting netminder Mackenzie Blackwood due to COVID-19 protocol. While the Islanders were able to take that game 4-1, both teams went back at it a few days later, as the Islanders fell to the fill-in starter Scott Wedgewood by a score of 2-0. That was Wedgewood’s second start in a row, and while he played well, he is no Blackwood.

Andy Greene (4)
Andy Greene #4 of the New York Islanders. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /

Islanders failed to secure even a point against a star-less Capitals team last week.

When the New York Islanders were in Washington for two meetings with the Capitals, COVID-19 protocols forced forwards Alex Ovechkin & Evgeny Kuznetsov, defenseman Dmitry Orlov, and goaltender Ilya Samsonov to miss both contests. The Islanders failed to get a point as they lost the first game with seconds remaining in the third period and then blew a 3-0 lead the next game.

Four vital points on the table against a team with their top dogs out, but zero points mustered.

In the Isles’ final two games of the road trip, which concluded last Sunday, they lost back-to-back games in overtime against the Philadelphia Flyers. Flyers’ Head Coach Alain Vigneault elected to sit star Travis Konecny in the first of the back-to-back, as he dressed defenseman Samuel Morin as a forward.

But, again, the Islanders could not take advantage.

The New York Islanders must take advantage of the Penguins’ injuries and show that they took advantage of their extra practice time this past week. With the two postponements for both teams, the Islanders have not played since Sunday while the Pens have not played since Saturday.

Whoever can find their legs first tonight will win the game.

The Islanders’ location in the standings, dead last, is not where you want to be early on in a season. However, given the competitive East Division, they are only three points out of a Playoff spot. But, they need to take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves.

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The fact that players are out with COIVID-19 or are in COVID-19 protocol, are dealing with injuries, or have found themselves scratches for other reasons is never something you want to see as a hockey fan. But if the New York Islanders do not start taking advantage of their opponents’ unfortunate circumstances, they will have a rather difficult time winning games and moving up in the standings.