Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
The New York Islanders finally appeared to be heading toward playoff contention this season when they started 4-3 with quality wins over the Pittsburgh Penguins, New Jersey Devils, Toronto Maple Leads and Tampa Bay Lightning.
Starting with their loss to the Devils on February 3, the Islanders have lost seven of their last nine games, and look like the same lottery team we have seen in New York for the last decade.
The Islanders are still a long way from being a playoff team, and their last two defeats were good examples of why this is the case.
On Monday, New York lost 7-0 at home to a Philadelphia Flyers that is really struggling defensively (21st in GAA), then gave up three goals in a defeat to the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday, who were without their three-best offensive players because of injuries (Erik Karlsson, Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek).
The Islanders are able to score at a high rate (9th in goals scored), but their defensive performance and goaltending (29th in GAA) have been poor, which isn't anything new with this team.
|Year ||GAA ||NHL Rank
|2010-11 ||3.15 ||27th
|2011-12 ||3.06 ||27th
|2012-13 ||3.56 ||29th
Head coach Jack Capuano is in his third season with the Islanders, and the team has improved very little during his tenure behind the bench. To win in the Atlantic Division, your goaltending and performance in the defensive zone have to be strong. Not only have the Islanders struggled to defend during Capuano's time as coach, they have arguably gotten worse.
The Islanders have eight players with a plus/minus rating of minus-six or worse, and as a team, they have allowed the most third-period goals (27) in the league. This is a young team that needs a disciplined, defensive-minded coach with a resume that includes playoff success.
If the Islanders continue to fall out of the playoff race, firing Capuano and giving an interim coach a chance to prove himself would be a smart decision by general manager Garth Snow.