For the second time in three games, the Islanders came out and started well but could not sustain momentum for long as they dropped a 4-2 decision to the Jets at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
The first eight minutes were dominated by New York, who were all over Connor Hellebuyck. Adam Pelech scored at the 38-second mark, but the good vibes did not last longer than that. Winnipeg took advantage of shoddy defending and mental breakdowns to build a 4-1 lead they would not relinquish.
"We had 4 or 5 opportunities to make it 2-0, the power play had chances. We looked like a tired team, mentally. We looked like a team that practiced twice in the last 25 days. Certainly starts building into your game. You can watch video all you want, you need to work on things on the ice", interim head coach Doug Weight said postgame.
Andy Graziano, SNY.TV Twitter
The Islanders look like a team that has run out of steam, the condensed schedule and franchise record nine-game road trip having caught up to them. But besides that, the defending has been questionable for weeks, leading to multiple high quality scoring chances for the opposition in front of a goaltending duo that has simply not been as good as they were last year.
Taking a look at this morning's standings, the team is hardly done, as they are tied with the Tampa Bay Lightning at 77 points over 70 games, and trailing the Toronto Maple Leafs, who have played 69 games, by one point for the final wild card spot in the Eastern conference. "There is no quit in this room", said captain John Tavares. "We're still right there with plenty of hockey left".
Still right there? Yes, they are. 'Plenty' of hockey left? Well, there are only 12 games remaining on the schedule and it doesn't look pretty with upcoming matchups against the Blue Jackets, Rangers, Penguins, Bruins and Predators over their next five.
Reality says the Islanders are what they are, 4-5-1 over their last ten, with three blowout losses in that timeframe. It's a horrendous time of the year to lose your mojo, and even though the players would not admit or buy into fatigue as a factor, historical performances all around the league beg to differ. We've seen it in the playoffs, as games drift into multiple overtimes, that mistakes to end games typically are a result of 'mental exhaustion'.
But make no mistake, this team has simply not been good enough defensively, especially the last three weeks or so, to sustain the run that got them back into the playoff hunt in the first place. They have three weeks to figure out if they want to play into mid-April or start making vacation plans.