While just about everyone in the hockey world knows the New York Islanders will once again be hitting the golf links early this year, that doesn’t mean the team can finish the post All-Star break by limping into the off-season.
The Isles begin play again tonight with a road contest in Atlanta against the Thrashers, who go for their third win in as many tries this season against New York when the teams collide at Philips Arena.
Atlanta (24-19-9) was in third place in the Eastern Conference and leading the Southeast Division with 43 points on Dec. 20, but it nearly hit rock bottom, picking up just five wins in 17 games to date. With the struggles, Atlanta finds itself in eighth place in the conference – one point ahead of Carolina – and 10 points behind division-leading Tampa Bay.
New York (15-27-7), meantime, has the second-worst record in the NHL and went into the break on another losing streak. The Isles lost three straight and five of six, including a 4-2 loss to Carolina last Wednesday at home.
“We talk about it all the time; we have to play with a little more desperation. We’re a desperate team,” goaltender Rick DiPietro told the Islanders’ Web site. “We need wins. Every game is important. Every two points is important. If we’re going to get out of this hole and have a chance to make the playoffs, we need to start winning.”
Michael Grabner has been one of the few bright spots on Long Island this season, tallying nine points in the last eight games, including six goals.
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Written by Dave Thomas