Ted Nolan hopes that his criticism of his team inspires change among the New York Islanders players. It’s possible the first-year coach might make a few modifications himself.
Nolan looks for a spark from his club when the Islanders (6-6-2) face the Philadelphia Flyers (3-10-1) for the first time this season Thursday night.
The coach expects his team to respond after he felt the players “quit” during a 5-1 home loss to Tampa Bay on Monday. They were outscored 9-2 on their two-game homestand.
“This was worse than a clunker,” Nolan said of the most recent loss. “It’s one thing to be outskilled and outworked at certain times, but when you look like you quit, that’s another story.”
The Islanders had totaled 13 goals in regulation during a three-game win streak before dropping their last two. New York has failed to convert on all eight power plays in its last two games to fall to 1-for-13 with the man advantage over last three contests.
The Islanders, meanwhile, allowed the Lightning to convert on three of five power plays.
“We took some steps forward,” Islanders defenseman Brendan Witt said, “and now it seems like we’re going back.”
Top goaltender Rick DiPietro had Monday night off following the Atlanta loss, in which he allowed four goals on 19 shots. He’s likely to return to the net against the Flyers, but is 1-6 with a 3.18 goals-against average in seven starts against them.
The Islanders have won only five of 19 meetings with Philadelphia since the start of the 2002-03 season.
The Flyers, who have the NHL’s lowest point total, have already overhauled their management, but it hasn’t prevented them from the worst 14-game start in the franchise’s 40-season history.
The Flyers won two of their first three games after general manager Bob Clarke resigned and coach Ken Hitchcock was fired Oct. 22, but they’ve since lost three straight under new GM Paul Holmgren and interim coach John Stevens.
Enforcer Ben Eager scored the Flyers’ only goal in the team’s 4-1 loss at Toronto on Monday night. Philadelphia has been outscored 57-29 this season.
“When (Eager’s) your only goal scorer,” Stevens said, “it’s a concern.”
The Flyers’ 29 goals are a league low, and they went 0-for-7 on the power play against the Maple Leafs. Philadelphia’s only bright spot recently has been in short-handed situations, as it had killed off 14 straight power plays in the previous three games before going 6-for-7 on Monday.
“It’s tough on everybody, not just me,” said Flyers captain Peter Forsberg, who does not have a point during the three-game slide. “Everybody feels bad. I’m not going to go down here. I’m just going to try to work harder.”