Worst Defensive Team In The NHL Also Struggling To Find Secondary Scoring

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — They were supposed to be a lot better than this.

Fresh off their first playoff appearance in six years, the Islanders have won just nine of their first 32 games. They have the second fewest points in the NHL and recently suffered through a 10-game winless streak (0-8-2).

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Logic suggests a substantial change should be coming, right?

Just don’t expect to see it on the bench. Head coach Jack Capuano’s job appears to be safe, according to a report in the NY Post.

Coming off a six-game playoff series loss to Pittsburgh last spring, the Islanders had appeared to show the NHL that the two decades of playing expansion-like hockey were behind them. However, they didn’t do much to improve their roster during the offseason, specifically on defense and in goal.

Then, a series of injuries decimated the top players they did have at the positions. The Islanders are still without defensemen Lubomir Visnovsky (concussion) and Brian Strait (upper body), and goaltender Evgeni Nabokov (groin), though they could get Strait and Nabokov back soon.

With their back end in shambles the Islanders quickly fell apart. Overall, they have allowed a league-high 111 goals, which has been due to not having significant experience along the blue line coupled with starting a pair of rookie goalies.

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And though the Islanders do boast one of the top lines in hockey, featuring Hart Trophy finalist John Tavares, sniper Thomas Vanek (acquired in early season trade from Buffalo) and ever-improving Kyle Okposo, they have been getting nothing in the form of secondary scoring. Supposed top six forwards Michael Grabner and Josh Bailey have not scored a goal in a combined 49 games, and center Frans Nielsen has one goal in his last 15 games.

The Post report cites sources familiar with Garth Snow’s thinking, but this general manager has for years been very secretive about anything having to do with this franchise and it’s fairly common knowledge that the circle of decision-making within the organization is tiny. That said, the Islanders could act on Capuano sooner rather than later if they don’t capitalize on their rousing 3-2 shootout win in San Jose on Tuesday.

The Isles were outshot 18-3 in the first period — and 48-28 overall — but battled back from a two-goal deficit in the third before forcing the overtime followed by the skills competition. The Tavares-Vanek-Okposo line combined for five points and rookie goalie Kevin Poulin played out of his mind, finishing as the game’s first star.

The Islanders conclude their five-game road trip Thursday at Phoenix, where they will unveil top prospect Ryan Strome. The 20-year-old forward, who was selected No. 5 overall in the 2011 draft, led the AHL in scoring with 33 points in 24 games prior to being called up from Bridgeport.

Strome was to join his teammates in Phoenix on Wednesday, Newsday reported. Pierre-Marc Bouchard cleared waivers and reported to Bridgeport.

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