The New York Islanders are off to an abysmal start to this 2011-12 campaign. That should come as no surprise to anyone whatsoever. They are the holders of the 15th and last spot in the Eastern Conference, as well as the 29th overall position in the entire NHL.
The Isles possess the worst goal-differential in the league (negative-27), but they're only one of two teams out of the playoff picture to allow 68 goals or less. In fact, three teams in the playoff picture right now have either the same amount of goals allowed or more. That may seem a little bit surprising, but their goal-drought tells the story.
A team desperate for goals, the Isles have the lowest goal total in the league, with a mere 41 in 21 games. When you're scoring less than two goals per game on average, it makes it pretty difficult to win hockey games.
Even amidst a team's darkest times can you pick out bright spots.
Here's five bright spots from the Isles' dark season beginning.
Michael Grabner is trying to build off of his 34-goal rookie season last year. Although the Islanders are desperate for goals right now, Grabner is still tied for second on the team with seven, one behind John Tavares. He also has four assists and a minus-three rating to go along with that—one of the lower totals on his club right now.
His lone shorthanded point, a game-winning goal which he scored today early in the third period against Martin Brodeur and the New Jersey Devils, is the only one the Islanders have tallied this season, too.
Including a 3-2 New York Islanders win today over the New Jersey Devils, Al Montoya now has a 3-3-1 record, with a .929 save percentage and 2.20 goals-against average.
Montoya is currently outplaying starter Rick DiPietro, leading the way in goal for the struggling Isles. With Evgeni Nabokov currently out due to injury and highly speculated to be moved, Montoya should take over either as the No. 1 guy or as backup to DiPietro if he starts to slide.
John Tavares, P.A. Parenteau and Matt Moulson have led the offensive charge for the Islanders. The problem is that, with a couple others aside, nobody has really followed their lead. As I mentioned, the Isles have only scored 41 goals collectively, and this top line has scored 18 of them.
Although he's a minus-10, there's only one member of the New York Islanders who is a plus player anyway. Captain Mark Streit has still managed to score 11 points in 21 games for the Islanders, the only defenseman to show any signs of life for the team thus far.
Frans Nielsen is the only New York Islander to have a plus rating (plus-1) right now this season, showing he's been strong on both sides of the puck for the struggling Isles. To go along with that, the Danish-born Nielsen has four goals and a modest 10 points through 21 games.
Should he stay healthy all season, he should set a career high in goals, which currently is 13.