Blown Away At Home: Isles Fall To Hurricanes, 2-7 on Coliseum Ice

How frustrating. The Islanders finally score a goal in the first period (first time in seven games), pull out to a 2-0 lead, and find a way to drop the sure-two-points in the standings to the Carolina Hurricanes. Yes, yesterday was a perfect example of what Islanders fans have been used to seeing: same bad habits sinking the same exact team.

It wasn’t fun to watch.  It was the Islanders putting their fans through 700 different emotions, only this time, it ended up as a loss.

Again, last night was another example of how well the Islanders can play at certain points (leading 2-0 after 1, and allowing one shot in the second period until the final 90 seconds), but how tired they can look at others.

After the Hurricanes scored twice at the end of the second, Islanders fans at the Coliseum fell quiet, hoping that their team only suffered a hiccup. Unfortunately, the third period began, and the Islanders were lifeless. A defensive breakdown led to Carolina’s go-ahead-goal, and the Islanders would never recover.

So, here we are, one day later. I’ve been to five home games this year, and the Islanders are 0-5, scoring a total of 5 goals. I would like to say it’s my fault, but with the team falling to 2-7 on Coliseum ice in 2013, I cannot feel that I’m the problem. Taking a look at the Islanders home difficulties, it’s rather hard to explain why this team cannot earn the points that they should be getting.

With a 6-3-1 record on the road, you would think the Islanders would be in perfect position to not only make the playoffs, but make a solid run to for the Atlantic Division. Their home record tells a completely different story, though.

As I mentioned, through nine home games, the Islanders are 2-7. This is currently the worst home record in the NHL, and according to Eric Hornick, tied for their worst home start in franchise history (inaugural 1972-73 season being the other). It’s unexplainable.

Through nine games, the Islanders have scored 20 goals, good for 2.22 goals per game. No, this number is not good enough, especially for a team that is now 0-9 when scoring 2 goals or less. No, it’s also not good enough because the Islanders offense comes to life on the road, scoring 36 more goals in their ten road games, which is good for 3.60 goals per game.

Notoriously slow starters, the Islanders have only scored in the first period in three different home games, totaling four goals. You would think this team would, at least, take advantage of these games, but the Islanders have not won any of them. They sit at 0-3 when scoring in the first period at the Coliseum, and yesterday added to that after the Islanders broke out for two early goals for the first time during this entire season. Yeah, get that: the Islanders have not scored two goals in the first period of any game in 2013 prior to last night.

So, both Islanders home wins took place when scoring four or more goals, all in the second period or later. In their seven losses, the Islanders have scored 11 goals. Their power-play is middle-of-the-pack on home ice (19.2%, as opposed to 32.3% on the road). It’s unfortunate because they just seem like they cannot get going at the old barn.

For some reason, this team’s play reeks of lethargy at the Coliseum. This Isles team is 19th in the NHL with 122 blocked shots, while they’re 3rd in the NHL on the road with 159. They have 115 home giveaways (11 of them last night), as compared to 70 giveaways on the road. They even lack a physical presence on home ice. I know the statistic is a little skewed, but they have 157 hits at the Coliseum (27th in the NHL), but 209 hits on the road (8th in the NHL).

For whatever reason, this team cannot get up for any type of game at the Coliseum. I hear some say they cannot do it in front of a packed house, and I hear the same for when the team plays in front of an empty crowd. Who knows what it is.

I’ll make a small comment, though: this team is booed on home ice whenever the slightest thing goes wrong. Every goalie gets a sarcastic round of applause when they make an early save. The power-play is berated every time they look to set-up, although admittedly, they couldn’t get into the zone on their third try last night.

Obviously, it’s not our (the fans) fault, but to say it “feels like home” when the Islanders are on the ice wouldn’t be accurate. Gone are the loud “Let’s go Islanders” chants. Gone is the enthusiasm in the building, or the energy outside of Section 329 – even when the team is winning. All I’m saying is, sometimes, these home games feel like road games.

At no point should us fans allow the chants for other teams in our arena. That’s unacceptable. At no point should we be at our team’s throat on home ice, especially during a 1-goal game, in favor of either side, because let’s face it: outside of the Flyers game, the Islanders were in each one until, basically, the very end.

I want to say the Islanders are 6-3-1 on the road, but sometimes, it feels their record might as well be 8-10-1. The Coliseum isn’t giving them any type of advantage. Hopefully, that changes before this team moves to Brooklyn.

Plus/Minus

Plus: John Tavares scoring his NHL-leading 13th goal of the season. That’s 13 goals in JT’s last 15 games.
Minus: John Tavares trying to do too much in the third.
Plus: John Tavares’ unbelievable effort to keep the puck out of the empty-net.
Minus: Mark Streit had several lazy plays, including the one that allowed the empty-net goal.
Minus: Frans Nielsen not converting on any of his 5 shots on net. Most of them were great scoring chances.
Plus: Radek Martinek looked steady in his season debut.
Minus: The entire team looking as gassed as they did in the third period. No one could move their legs. It wasn’t necessarily effort, but they were literally drained.
Plus: Kyle Okposo working hard at points last night.
Minus: Unfortunately, the Isles need goals from Kyle.
Plus: Moulson also scoring for the Islanders.
Minus: Is anyone not named Tavares and Moulson willing to help out? Whenever the Islanders score 2 goals or less, I feel that it’s usually one of them that score the goals. Just need that extra push.
Plus: Thomas Hickey had another strong game. Good puck-mover.
Minus: In the third period, Keith Aucoin made a very bad pass through the slot. No one probably noticed this, but if Bailey didn’t get it, that could have been real bad.
Minus: Another “1st NHL goal” allowed by the Islanders. If this was a statistic, the Islanders would lead this category for all eternity. We’re talking Wayne Gretzky records.
Plus: Matt Martin with 6 hits.
Plus: Marty Reasoner winning 69% of his face-offs.
Minus: I don’t agree when people say that’s what he’s here for. Konopka won face-offs too. Marty came in to do a little bit extra, as he had 33 points the previous season before he signed. He hasn’t provided that little bit extra.
Plus: Kevin Poulin standing on his head in the first.
Minus: That very weak goal allowed by Poulin to tie the game.

The Islanders drop to 8-10-1. They play Boston tomorrow.

Follow @ChrisTriants

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About the Author: Writes at Islanders Op-Timism. Islanders Season Ticket Holder who tends to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Hofstra Graduate currently working at Portnoy, Messinger, Pearl & Associates. I definitely want to end up working within the world of hockey. Blog: www.IslandersOptimism.com E-Mail: ChristopherTriantafilis@gmail.com Twitter: @ChrisTriants

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