New York Islanders: Are They the Worst Team in the NHL...Again?

Chris LeydenCorrespondent IIJanuary 21, 2011

UNIONDALE, NY - JANUARY 20:  Nicklas Backstrom #19 of the Washington Capitals celebrates his second-period goal against the New York Islanders on January 20, 2011 at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York.  (Photo by Lou Capozzola/Getty Images)
Lou Capozzola/Getty Images

Earlier in the year, the New York Islanders managed to lose 14 games in a row, and won once in a 21 game stretch. The Islanders followed that stretch up by winning eight of their next 11 and looking like a team that had made great strides and had come together.

Now the Islanders are yet again in a losing stretch, dropping four of their last five. Although the team has had some close loses to good teams (Capitals, Canucks) in this stretch, they have also managed to lose to two of the worst teams in the league (Devils, Senators).

The team has given up a goal in the first few minutes of almost every game, and with the third worst offense in the league, they do not have the fire power to climb back.

Now the question lurking is, have the Islanders sunk to worst team in the league status again, a spot that of late had really been held by the New Jersey Devils? Although Zenon Konopka does not think so, are the Islanders back to being the doormat of the league? releases its NHL power rankings on Mondays, and this past Monday Pierre LeBrun had the Islanders above three other teams in the rankings. Since those rankings have come out, the Islanders have gone 0-2 with loses to the Devils (5-2) and the Capitals (2-1), both at home.

The teams below the Islanders in last week's rankings were the Devils, Senators and Edmonton Oilers. Fortunately, for an easier comparison, the Islanders have played all three of these teams in the past two weeks. The result of all of these games: a loss. So by a simple head to head comparison of the last week, the Islanders would theoretically be the new worst team.

Obviously this argument is not the strongest, as a bounce here or there can change the dynamic of a game. In the NHL point standings, the Islanders stand in third to last, ahead of the Oilers and Devils. It seems likely that, with the Devils starting to heat up, they will soon pass the Islanders, putting the them in last place in the Eastern Conference. As for the Oilers, the Islanders are currently tied with them, but have played one less game, giving them the tiebreaker.

It seems very conceivable that by this time next week, the Islanders could be in last place in the league.

Although this may seem pretty dreary to most Islanders fans, the news is not all bad. It’s a young team that is going to struggle at times, and show strokes of brilliance at other times. John Tavares had been on a hot streak of late, and the addition of Kyle Okposo should really help the power play score some more goals.

The team has also been hit with the injury bug and lead the league in man-games lost.

So Islanders fans, don’t be too down on this team again. It has been a long time since the team has not been in the cellar of the league, but for once things really seem to be looking up. And for the Islanders, it seems the only way they can go is up.

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