As Isles Start To Sink, Joensuu and Martin Get The Call

Seven losses in a row, folks. That's how many consecutive games the Islanders have surrendered to their opponents in a stretch where they have only scored nine goals. Secondary scoring has always been an issue with this team, but when the top guys of Tavares, Okposo and Moulson aren't getting the job done, and Josh Bailey is on the Injured Reserve, this team will really struggle to find the back of the net.

And you can add to the fact that Rick DiPietro is still several games away from returning to old form. That doesn't mean Ricky is responsible for the Islanders recent struggles. Believe it or not, I have heard some fans exclaim that this is all of Rick's fault and that we should do everything we can to get rid of him. Those comments are just absolutely ridiculous. He's our number one goaltender and has proven that he can carry this team on his back when needed. He missed a year of hockey due to several injuries and surgeries and has finally returned - give him some time before you start calling for the axe.

Plus Rick can't score goals, and there have been some games in which Rick played below par but well enough to win. The team just hasn't been able to get it done.

That's why Scott Gordon plans on shaking things up a bit. Islanders Authorized announced that Bridgeport Sound Tigers power-forwards Matt Martin and Jesse Joensuu will likely be called up for Monday's practice. Josh Bailey has been placed on the Injured Reserve and Martin Biron has been recalled as well.

Matt Martin was one of a few players that started their first professional season with Bridgeport that I predicted as a possible call-up if the season came down to this, so I'm not surprised. However, I do not expect to much of him. At 6'2 and 192 lbs, the left-winger is predicted to be a future power-forward that can play around third or fourth line minutes since he has the willingness to drop the gloves, hit hard and pop in a few goals. He's the type of player that this team lacks. Although Gordon called out his team for a lack of a physical presence and then called up Trevor Gillies, his efforts have been ineffective, regardless of Gillies' demotion back to the minors. But Martin is only in his first year of pro-hockey. It will be good to see what he can do given the opportunity, but it may be too early to expect what he's capable of once he puts on an Islanders sweater.

Joensuu has been up and down with the team once this year and deserves this second chance. He only scored one goal in seven games played with the Islanders but has been one of the Sound Tigers leading scorers all season long. With his 6'4 and 207 lb frame, Joensuu has the ability to cause havoc in front of the net and screen the opposing goalie. His problem is that he tends to stray away from playing physical despite his size. Right now the Islanders need that physical presence so if Joensuu intends to stay during his second tour of duty, he needs to get his nose dirty.

A shake-up is definitely in order for this team and it's good to see that the Islanders are going to search within their depth charts before making a move. After all, it's all about building from within. Even if Joensuu and/or Martin don't manage to stay in the line-up past a few games, they will get a good opportunity to see what they need to improve on for later in the year or next season.

Being that the Islanders are currently sitting 13th in the East with 54 points, now five points away from a playoff spot and six points ahead of the 2nd and 3rd worst teams, the Carolina Hurricanes and the Toronto Maple Leafs, anything is worth a shot.

-Rob McGowan

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