Where Do The Islanders Go Next?

As the annual Thanksgiving week home stand approaches, the state of the Islanders is not what fans had expected at this point into the season. After last night’s 5-2 loss to the Flyers, the team now sits at the bottom of the Metropolitan Division looking to find any way possible to recover from this recent skid. They haven’t won a road game this month losing all 7 games away from Nassau Coliseum and for the year the team’s record is 8-13-3 for a total of 19 points.

A few answers to the recent struggles are obvious looking at the defense and goaltending issues all season and injuries to Evgeni Nabakov, Lubomir Visnovsky, and Brian Strait don’t help the situation. The one thing that can’t be blamed for the poor play is the Thomas Vanek trade since Vanek was also out of the lineup for two weeks and still looking to fit in with his new team. A lot of comings and goings in the lineups don’t bring consistent chemistry but the difference from last season to this season is that there is still a lot of time to recover.

Do the Islanders have the team capable of making another push for the playoffs? The answer is yes and there is still time to prove that can happen with 58 games remaining. Visnovsky is expected back in the lineup soon and that will boost the Islanders defense and their struggles to kill penalties. While Kevin Poulin has played well in net despite not enough scoring, the veteran leadership of Nabokov is certainly missed.

General Manager Garth Snow will have a lot on his plate to deal with coming up as this team clearly has needs including a veteran defensemen to boost the current group and a possible upgrade in goal. While the Vanek trade last month showed Snow’s urgency to improve the team there is hope that he has more ideas on improving important needs going forward. The Islanders have built a core of talent that is missing some veteran leadership to help take this team to the next level.

The second concern from the GM has to be the coach. Is Jack Capuano the answer long term and if not who can be better. With former Islanders coach Peter Laviolette still available after being fired in Philadelphia earlier this season that is one name Garth Snow has to keep an eye out for if things don’t get better. Laviolette brings a winning attitude and a tougher approach that might just be what they need. When Laviolette took over the Flyers in the middle of the 2009-2010 season he led his team to a Stanley Cup playoff appearance. A new voice and attitude on the bench could help the situation but only time will tell. This is something that needs to be further reviewed if improvements aren’t seen on this upcoming home stand.   

The Islanders now have 3 days off to figure things out before their next game on Wednesday against the Jets at home, the first of 3 games in a 4 day span.

-John Santamaria

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