Isles Struggles: Why Are Back-To-Back Games A Problem?

There really was not much to say after the Isles were blown out 6-1 last night by the Pittsburgh Penguins. But there is a glaring stat that can be taken away from this loss. Over the past two seasons, the Islanders have only won consecutive back-to-back games once (Photo Credit: theseoduke/Flickr).

There have been a total of 28 back-to-back games from the start of the 2011-2012 season to the last two games played this past Saturday and Sunday. Of those 28, the Islanders only pair of wins that came two days in a row included a 3-2 victory in Boston on March 3, 2012 and a 1-0 win at home versus New Jersey on March 4, 2012.

The Isles overall back-to-back record in the 2012 season was 8-10-2-2. Presently, they are 3-3-0-0 in back to back games. However, they have yet to win the second game of a back-to-back pairing this year and only accomplished that task five of 11 times last season.

Could this dismal record be due to poor conditioning? It's possible, but hard to fathom that a team as young as the Islanders can be that out of shape.

Could there be a lack of motivation in the locker room? The coaching staff and leaders on the ice are responsible for picking up the team after coming off a loss the night before. A game the following day is typically viewed as an opportunity to correct the mistakes made the previous night and make up for a loss with a hard fought win (Chris Lukowski/Flickr).

But the New York Islanders have only done that five out of 28 times over the past two seasons.

This roster, for the most part, has not changed much over the off-season minus the replacement of P.A. Parenteau with Brad Boyes. You can throw in the addition of two tough guys in Eric Boulton and Matt Carkner, but neither have played much this year due to healthy scratches (Boulton) and injuries (Carkner).

With the exception of Jay Pandolfo, who was a consistent work horse on the fourth line and penalty killing units, the Islanders also shredded some dead weight veterans in Brian Rolston and Mike Mottau, both of whom did very little for the Islanders organization. They were replaced with young guys out of Bridgeport and other players looking to earn full time NHL spots.

On paper, this team should be motivated enough to get that second win on back-to-back nights. This team should be conditioned enough to earn those victories.

But for whatever reason, they are not. The Islanders have remained  consistently inconsistent. They have shown grit, determination and character building despite losing, such as the 2-1 OTL to the New York Rangers last Thursday. Yet as seen as in the loss to the Pens last night, they will also come out flat and without heart despite dominating the Washington Capitals from start to finish the prior afternoon.

These losses are even more hurtful in a shortened season that can see four games played in one week with little rest in between due to plenty of travel.

With all that being said, the Isles still have 25 points on the year and are only three points out of a playoff spot behind the 9th-placed Winnipeg Jets (26 points) and eighth placed Rangers (28 points).

The Islanders have three more back-to-back sets this season and need to turn the majority of those games into wins if they hope to keep their playoff chances alive.  

-Rob McGowan

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