It’s another day of panic in Islanders Country. After another blown lead, cries of “same old Isles” can be heard all-around the Island. I cannot blame you. The Carolina loss was a tough one to watch, and it’s not going to get any easier against the Bruins, who stroll into town tonight to face the Isles on National television.
I don’t want to say the Isles will lose this one. Just when you think the Islanders are done, they seem to find their way back into the mix. It’s tough to gauge because the Islanders look so promising on some nights; however, just when you think they’re about to take that next step, they come up short. Their shortcomings, though, are highlighted by some of the underachieving guys on this roster, the main culprit being Kyle Okposo.
Heading into the season, Kyle was on John Tavares’ wing. He wasn’t off to a bad start, either, as he scored a goal in the second game of the season against the Tampa Bay Lightning. That cured any worries that he would be off to a slow-start, which he had in 2011-12 where it took him 18 games to score his first goal of the year….well, it cured all worries for a little bit.
Nineteen games into the season, Kyle Okposo still has one goal. Fans are losing patience, and I would have to imagine the organization is as well.
Yeah. The former 7th-overall draft pick has not been living up to anybody’s expectations this season. After signing a very affordable five-year deal with the Islanders in the summer of 2011, Kyle has come out of the gate with two extremely sluggish starts to his seasons.
This season, Kyle has one goal (currently on a 17-game goal drought) and four assists. He’s tied with Casey Cizikas, Colin McDonald, and David Ullstrom in points, and has one-fewer point than AHL depth-guy Keith Aucoin. Kyle Okposo has the same amount of goals as Casey Cizikas and Matt Martin. The only “regular” that he’s ahead of happens to be Marty Reasoner, which is no compliment to our “top-six winger.”
Sadly, that’s Kyle through 19 games in 2013.
In the 2011-12 season, it took Kyle 19 games to find the back of the net. He scored twice in the 19th game, and added an assist for a three-point night, giving him two goals and four assists through 19 games last year.
So, with one less point through 19 games this season in comparison to last season, Kyle’s technically regressed.
It also doesn’t help that this drought has no end in sight. Kyle has 14 shots in his past 10 games for the Islanders. Kyle has a lone assist in his past 10 games for the Islanders. Kyle is also a -7 in those same 10 games for the Islanders.
Nothing about those statistics show any signs of an improving player.
Sure, Kyle’s effort has been there. I’ve noticed Kyle skating a little bit harder, and working the puck around the boards a little bit more. His one assist came against the Senators, where his hard work, and his hard work alone, led to an Islanders goal.
Unfortunately for Kyle, he’s not here to just “work hard.” Kyle’s here to score goals, which is why the Islanders placed him on the top-line with John Tavares and Matt Moulson. Okposo is supposed to be a scoring threat for the Islanders, and the dependence on Kyle’s goal scoring is hurting this team.
Nope, not Garth’s fault. It’s not Cappy’s fault, either. If Kyle cannot score goals next to Tavares, then it’s all on Mr. Okposo. Think about this. The Islanders are 5th in the East in goals scored, and 4th in the East in goals-per-game, despite Kyle Okposo’s one, solitary goal. With the Islanders record at 8-1-1 when scoring 3 or more goals, could you imagine where the Islanders would be if they could get a little bit of juice out of their third-leading goal scorer from the 2011-12 season?
Kyle scored 24 goals for the Islanders last season. He scored 20 points in 38 games during the 2010-11 season, and was second on the Islanders with 52 points in 2009-10. If we could have gotten three timely goals from Kyle this season in the games where the Islanders stayed scoreless through two periods, or in the games where the Isles were down one goal before that empty-netter, the Islanders could be 11-7-1 instead of 8-10-1 right now. That is how close the Islanders are, and that is how badly Kyle’s slump is affecting the Islanders.
We could use the “slow-start” excuse, but that doesn’t help anybody when the season is only 48-games short. We could say that other people should be scoring goals too, but you know what? Our 4th-line already has more goals in comparison to last year, Michael Grabner’s basically half-way to 20 goals (his total through the entire 2011-12 season), and even our defensemen are scoring goals (7 goals through 19 games, compared to 19 through 82 games last season).
Kyle’s not contributing, while the Islanders rely on him to be a big part of our offense. Again, how can you blame anybody but him? All of that momentum he gained after he ended last season with 9 goals in the final 10 games, and his impressive performance at the Worlds for Team USA? Gone. All gone because he decided to sit during the NHL Lockout, rather than play somewhere else.
I preach patience. Half-way through this season, patience is wearing thin on Kyle. Fact: the Islanders are only two points out of the playoffs, and fact: the Islanders can still make it, and I believe they will make it if Kyle gets going; however, Kyle needs to do just that, and he needs to kick it on now.
Through 48 games last season, Kyle scored 11 goals and 14 assists for 25 points. Kyle has a ways to go to reach those numbers, and even those numbers would be disappointing for Kyle, who should have no excuse for his poor start. The Islanders need him; otherwise, a change of scenery might be in store for the struggling Islanders forward.
Thanks for reading. Feel free to comment.
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