With yet another all-world goaltender coming to Nassau Coliseum Thursday night, it's fair to wonder where the Islanders will find some goals.
Tuesday marked their fourth straight home game scoring a single goal, though the Isles managed to get a point out of it in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Wild. Four straight games, against three unsung goaltenders on ridiculous hot streaks (the Rangers' Cam Talbot, the Senators' Andrew Hammond and the Wild's Devan Dubnyk) and the likely MVP, Montreal's Carey Price.
A one-time playoff MVP, the Kings' Jonathan Quick, will be in the opposing net Thursday night, so the Islanders needed to do something to shake their offensive hex. Wednesday, that meant some video and at least one new on-ice drill, where Jack Capuano had his forwards behind the net with the goal turned backward to practice getting shots up high from a tight space.
"I think we're there in some ways, but we're not there as far as taking away [the goalie's] eyes," Capuano said. "You have to be dynamic in the offensive zone, you need your D to activate a little more. We were scoring a lot of goals early in the year doing that."
One change it does not appear likely that Capuano will make is in personnel. Despite some lengthy dry spells for his forwards and one of the Isles more prolific goal scorers of the past five years sitting out as a healthy scratch, Capuano does not seem inclined to put Michael Grabner back in. Grabner, Colin McDonald and Eric Boulton all did extra work on ice Wednesday, meaning at least for Grabner it's likely a fourth straight healthy scratch against the Kings.
"With all three of those guys, they have to be ready," Capuano said.
The goal drought is not for a lack of opportunities. The Islanders outshot the Wild on Tuesday, 38-32, marking the eighth straight game the Isles have outshot their opponent, even though they are 2-4-2 in those games.
The Islanders opened Tuesday's game with 11 of the first 12 shots on goal and about half a dozen high-percentage scoring chances in the game's first eight minutes. That sort of play should break them through.
"When we're moving the puck fast, when we're driving our feet everywhere on the ice like that, we're fine," Capuano said. "When we don't, when we're standing around, we're not a good team. End of story."