The New York Islanders’ season-opening 13-game road trip — the second-longest swing in NHL history — ended with as resounding a thud as ever.
After a promising 5-2-2 start, they’ve lost four straight, which was punctuated by back-to-back losses down in Florida to the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers.
The Islanders were outscored 19-4 during that final stretch, including one last embarrassment of a 6-1 loss on Tuesday night to the Panthers.
A decent enough start quickly evaporated once the Islanders yielded the game’s first goal seven minutes into the game. Then the wheels fell off, opening the door for a four-goal period that ended New York’s night early.
“I thought we really sagged once they scored the first goal,” Trotz said of his sudden defensively-challenged team. “That’s part of being a bit fragile, which I haven’t said too often in the last little while. But we were squeezing it and they jumped on us. Some of the mistakes we were making were on us — the decisions, the caught in between… We’re playing almost good hockey and then playing bad hockey. You can’t do that.”
It’s the first time in Trotz’s tenure as Islanders head coach that the team has allowed four or more goals in four consecutive games — suggesting that something has grown rotten within its ranks rather than simply pointing to a road trip that basically lasted one month.
“I can’t get a handle on [it]. It’s everybody right now. It’s all of us,” Trotz admitted. “We can’t say it’s one or two guys that we can separate from the group… We have to reset a little bit and get home. We have two days to reset and get back at it again. It’s on us. We can’t fix it unless we’re all committed to it. That’s everybody.”
A return home brings the long-anticipated home opener at the brand-new UBS Arena on Saturday against a high-powered Calgary Flames team where Trotz hopes the friendly confines of New York can provide a boost to their play.
“Yeah, it’s turned into a little bit of a long nightmare. We’re looking forward to getting back,” Trotz said. “We’re opening a new arena. Hopefully, there will be some new energy and new focus. To be honest, it hasn’t been easy. From our standpoint, we have to get better.”
And fast, too.
The Islanders sit in dead-last in the Metropolitan Division at 5-6-2 (14 points), though six of the seven other teams in the standings above them have played more games than them.
“You look at almost .500 on this road trip, we feel like we should be a little better than that but you talk to other people and .500 is sort of a goal, I think,” Trotz said. “You’re looking at that for a lot of teams, not us.
“I don’t think you can go in our room and anyone feels great about anything other than we got this road trip done.”