Islanders Struggling to Gain Ground in Eastern Conference

Kyle Palmieri, New York Islanders (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
Kyle Palmieri, New York Islanders (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images) /

The New York Islanders‘ come from behind bid for the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs is fading with each game.

New York’s start to the season was incredibly difficult, as the Isles were forced to play their first 13 contests on the road. It was a stretch of games that put the team in a hole right from the start, and now it is struggling in its attempt to rally.

The home-heavy schedule that followed that early road trip was expected to big the biggest asset in the Islanders’ comeback bid, but things have not played out that way. The Isles are 10-10-4 at home this season, which has not been good enough to offset road woes and forge a comeback.

The latest blow for the Islanders was a 3-2 shootout defeat at the hands of the last-place Montreal Canadiens on Sunday. Yes, any team can win on any given day in the NHL, but those are the games that the Isles have to find a way to win while they scrap and fight for a playoff spot.

Entering Tuesday’s action, New York finds itself in 11th place in the Eastern Conference with a record of 18-20-7. The Islanders are 19 points out of the final playoff spot in the conference.

The Islanders have been unable to gain ground in the playoff hunt.

In early January, it looked like the Islanders were making progress in their pursuit of a postseason berth, as they started 2022 with five wins in six games. However, they are 4-7-1 since January 22, and while their point percentage was on the right side of .500 a few weeks ago, it currently sits at .478 and is accentuated by a -15 goal differential.

The defense is still playing well in New York, as the team’s 2.7 goals allowed per game ranks among the best defensive outputs in the NHL. Unfortunately, the offense has reached a new low, playing at a level beneath even that that had proven to be insufficient in recent postseasons.

At just 2.4 goals scored per contest, the Islanders offense is as bad as its defense is good. In that 12 game stretch that I mentioned that has yielded only four wins, the Isles have been held to fewer than three goals on six occasions.

When you look at individual scorers, the Islanders have no reliable man to turn to this season when they’re in need of a big goal. Forward Mathew Barzal is one of the more gifted offensive players on the roster, but he leads the team with only 33 points (in 42 games played).

Brock Nelson has the next highest point total (26) and leads the team with 17 goals. Overall, the Isles have only four players that have managed to score 20 points or more on the year.

Now, the Islanders will embark on a five-game road trip out west. They will attempt to right the ship against at least three teams with legitimate playoff ambitions, and that will be easier said than done.

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It’s hard to believe that things will suddenly fall into place for the Islanders, as this season has been disappointing from the start. There is still time, but despite New York’s efforts, the gap between them and the last team in the postseason picture has yet to shrink.