With the fog settling on what has already been a tenuous week, things still feel… chaotic.
Whether it was on the ice or off, there were almost too many threads to attempt to keep track of.
There was a bad loss to Columbus that hurt dimming chances in the playoff race. Then, there was Doug Weight's ensuing irate press conference. Somehow fans were to blame for another lackluster defensive performance.
Then, came the #SnowMustGo billboard controversy, and Anders Lee's response to not wanting the extra money going toward his charity.
This was like one of those dysfunctional family sitcoms that has aired over the last 20 years or so, except there was no Bryan Cranston, and this is still very, very real. In other words, it was a typical week for the Islanders.
Getting away from the off-ice situations, this week was dubbed as "do-or-die" in terms of the playoff race. If the first game were any indication of how the rest of the week would go, things were going to be bleak.
An early goal from John Tavares was not enough to help out what has become the usual defensive play. The Blue Jackets racked up 26 shots in the first period alone, and it didn't get much better from there for the rest of the evening.
It's become the norm that this team yields 50-plus shots a night, and that just seems wrong for all sorts of reasons. Jaroslav Halak has a .925 save percentage this month, and he alone might be the only reason this team has a snowball's chance at making the playoffs this year.
Think about this -- Halak made 47 saves against Columbus, and that still wasn't good enough. He would have had to stand on his head, and then some, to snag a victory. Luckily for the Islanders, that would happen Thursday night against the Rangers. But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves yet.
Weight's anger after the loss against the Blue Jackets was completely misdirected. Yes, I think it can be fair to criticize the attendance issues that have plagued this team for quite some time, but was a quiet building really the reason this team continually gets outshot each night? Not in the slightest.
That's a personnel issue, which apparently isn't something for him to make a judgment call on. In reality, it very much is his call to decide who should be on the ice each night. The onus is on him and Garth Snow to put a viable product out there. That's a tough question to ignore.
This week could have continued to spiral had the Islanders not topped the Rangers on Thursday night. I will give credit to Weight for finally benching Jason Chimera, who has the sixth-worst CF percentage in 5-on-5 situations among all skaters in the league that have played at least 600 minutes of ice time. That's a big enough sample size to show that he's just not a good enough NHL player to get regular minutes. The alternate was not Josh Ho-Sang, but rather Tanner Fritz. You can't win every battle, I guess.
Halak earned a much-deserved shutout, Mathew Barzal continued to play at the high level we've become accustomed to seeing, but it came on a night where the Islanders were outshot again, this time 50-38.
To give this a little more context, this was a Rangers team that had a front office essentially punt on this season a little more than a week ago, the same team whose possession numbers are worse than the Islanders. Thursday's win was a feel-good one for sure, but there are still plenty of holes that can't be left ignored.
Friday night's game might even be more important. With the Hurricanes a point ahead of the Islanders and holding a game in hand, this is as close to a must-win as you can get in February.
With a hope and a prayer (and some more goaltending bailing out a porous defense), this do-or-die stretch could actually end on a positive note.