If you looked at the standings, coupled with the Islanders hot streak just before the new year, and convinced yourself that the Isles could make one last-ditch effort at the playoffs, New York went and stomped out that flame of optimism before the embers could even truly get burning.
One goal on Friday in Colorado, one on Saturday in Arizona. Two of the worst teams in the NHL, and the Islanders couldn't mount more than a goal a game. Absolutely brutal.
There's no blaming the goaltending anymore. In a far cry from anything Jaroslav Halak was able to manage this year, Thomas Greiss was brilliant in both games, stepping up to ensure the Isles' anemic offense had a chance to get the four points on this road trip they desperately needed. Even the defense played better, as the club blocked 20 shots on Friday and 21 on Saturday and eased some of the onus on Greiss.
The Isles, the Corsi nightmare that they are, even out-attempted the Avalanche 49-44 at even strength on Friday. Not really the dominant effort you'd want against a team that had a minus-51 goal differential, but it was something. The goals, however, just would not come. Johnny Boychuk's tally on Friday and Alan Quine's on Saturday was all this club, desperate for two wins in two very winnable games, could muster. That's a tough pill to swallow for any fan that decided to sit through it.
And apparently it was for the head coach, too, who was flabbergasted that the Isles couldn't break through in, what was admittedly, a very strong effort in the extra session on Saturday.
"The overtime for us was probably the best overtime we have played all year, and we still can't win a game," Islanders coach Jack Capuano told reporters after the shootout loss to the Coyotes.
The exasperation pales in comparison to how we all feel, and it just goes to show just how dead in the water this team is. They put themselves way too far behind the eight ball, squandered an early schedule that barely had them leave Brooklyn, and now, as they try to desperately make up ground on the road, where they've been awful all year, they just can't garner the traction that's required of them to bring their season relevance.
"This easily could've been two wins for us," Quine told Newsday. "It stinks. We can take some positives, but we were trying for four points."
Stinks, indeed. As a wise man once opined into a hot microphone, how many days 'til spring training?