The Islanders were yet again without key players in their lineup. Kieffer Bellows, Josh Bailey, Andy Greene, Ross Johnston, Adam Pelech, Anders Lee, and most recently Zdeno Chara were put on the COVID Protocol List. Both Ryan Pulock and Brock Nelson were out due to lower body injuries as well.
Without such players, the Isles struggled to hold their own last night against the New York Rangers falling 4-1. Even when presented with six power play opportunities, the Islanders did not have enough behind them to overcome the blueshirts and convert on these chances. This game also marked the seven game in a row that the Islanders fell to their opponents and a lot of that is due to a shorting lineup.
With already having struggled in some of their games before these players were listed to COVID Protocol, missing them creates a whole new struggle all together. The Isles had recalled many players from the Bridgeport Soundtigers (their AHL minor league team) to help fill in these gaps, however this has proven to be ill effective at giving them a win.
Andy Andreoff, who was recalled from Bridgeport on Nov. 20, scored the only goal for the Isles last night off of a deflection from a shot by Otto Koivula. Koivula is another player who has been called up and has been sent back and forth between Long Island and Connecticut over the past few weeks.
“On the goal, it started with a good cycles, Otto made a really nice play he was driving up on the blue line there and made a shot, and I mean that’s my spot, I usually just stand in front and he knows that from playing with him in Bridgeport,” states Andreoff in his interview with NHL Networks, “I give him full credit there, I was just sitting in front and made a good play.”
When looking at where the Isles currently sit after seven straight losses, Andreoff adds, “For the most part I think we just have to adjust with what is going on. We gotta, I know it’s hard but we got to stay positive at the same time, you know it’s a tough time but, I mean for us guys are getting in so we gotta step up and kind of fill what roles that are gone.”
Coach Barry Trotz in his interview acknowledges the effort that his team made against the Rangers last night. He exhibited how his team played a solid game however, things did occur that added stress to their game play especially when looking at the Rangers’ third goal.
“The third one right after we scored, you know you got the building hopping and we’re right there and then the next shift we give up a goal. Those are things that are hard to deal with probably mentally more than anything.”
The Islanders face Pittsburgh Friday night then head to Manhattan to take on the Rangers one again. It’ll be interesting to see the rematch between the two teams and if the Isles can gain back some of their players from COVID Protocol. If they can, this can be a driving factor on their ability to take over their game and come out with a much needed win.