With the All-Star Break and the mandatary NHL bye-week in effect, the New York Islanders have two weeks off. No games between their win over the Rangers on January 21 and their Saturday matinee against the Vancouver Canucks on February 1. Will the time help them or hurt them?
Isles fans are certainly feeling the hockey withdrawals this week. And next week. And while we’re already sweating it out without any games to watch, we’re sweating, even more, remembering how poorly the Islanders tend to play after extended breaks.
Following a mostly dominate preseason, the Islanders had a week off and then a rocky start to the 2019-2020 season. Of course, they soon went on a 17-game point streak, but since then are barely playing 500 hockey. Their record since the end of the streak is 13-12-3. They also lost on both sides of the Christmas mini-break, the first three games of the new year, and both games back after a random three-day break in January. Now fans face February with trepidation.
The team even had its first monthly losing record under Barry Trotz in January, despite its worst losing streak under Trotz remaining at just three games. Not exactly a good combination.
And even though they won their last game before the break, it wasn’t exactly a happy ending either. The Isles almost threw it away with stupid penalties and sloppy defense in the last ten minutes of the third period, but they managed to pull out the win.
Another worrying moment of that last game was Mat Barzal’s permanent seat on the bench. “He knows why” – Trotz’s ominous comment after the game – was all fans heard to explain why the Isles’ best skater did not take a single shift in the last period. Trotz has made other reprimanding comments of Barzal in the past, but usually after he takes unnecessary retaliatory penalties. Between Barzy’s two assists and zero penalties in that game, fans are stumped.
Hopefully the All-Star Break will provide some comic relief for Barzal and the rest of the team so they can come out with a new fire, or hunger as Trotz likes to say, in February.
After all, that last win is still a win, especially against a rival. After losing as many games as they’ve won in the last two months, it must feel good to take a vacation after a victory.
Other positives from the last week include the blow-out game against Detroit. Several players broke scoring droughts and can rest with more positive thoughts.
Featured Image: Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images