After losing a third-straight game and eighth in the past 10 outings, Islanders coach Jack Capuano said it’s him that’s to blame for the poor start to the season.
The New York Islanders have lost their past three games, six of their past seven and eight of their past 10. The Islanders were booed off the ice on Monday night, and given the lack of success, few would really argue with the home crowd’s assessment.
Put all of that together, and it’s hard to fathom a scenario in which coach Jack Capuano hasn’t moved from the hot seat to sitting on the equivalent of an open flame. Despite the losses piling up and no sign of the ship righting itself anytime soon, though, Capuano seems to have earned himself a stay of execution.
But even with his current standing, it doesn’t seem Capuano is afraid to take the heat from the recent misfortunes of the Islanders. Rather, he stepped into the criticism following Monday’s shutout loss at the hands of the Lightning, which marked the third time in two weeks New York fell to Tampa Bay. Capuano admitted that he hasn’t yet found combinations that have worked for the Islanders, and added that he gets where the fans are coming from with their boo-bird send-off of the club.
“It’s on me,” Capuano said, according to the New York Daily News’ Peter Botte. “I understand the frustration of the fans and the players, but for me, as a coach, I’m behind these guys and want them to succeed.”
And mere days after commenting that the team had lost so much scoring — both Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen left the club this off-season — without properly replacing, Capuano sang a different tune after Monday’s loss.
“We have the players in there that can score some goals,” Capuano said, according to Botte. “We have to find a way, and it falls on me.”
That said, it’s partially on the players to get something going. Through 16 games, major off-season signing Andrew Ladd has two goals, one of the team’s highest scorers is the now-injured Dennis Seidenberg, who had to wait until after the World Cup of Hockey to land an NHL deal, and youngsters Ryan Strome and Anders Lee, two of the players expected to step up this season, have combined for three goals and seven points through roughly 20 percent of the campaign.
In the face of the struggles, though, the Islanders still appear to have their coach’s back. Captain John Tavares said he hoped the poor results wouldn’t result in Capuano losing his job, and sung his coach’s praises despite the team boasting an ugly 5-8-3 record to start the season.
“Coach is as well-prepared and hard-working as any in the league,” Tavares said, according to the New York Post’s Dan Martin. “A lot of it is on us, starting with myself. I know I haven’t been up to the standard I can be at. We’ve had lot of success under this group playing this way the last few years. We have to get back to that.”
Whether Tavares shouldering some of the blame will be enough to save Capuano is to be seen, but if the losing ways continue, it’s going to take nothing short of a miracle for the Islanders bench boss to survive the rest of the campaign.
Want more in-depth features and expert analysis on the game you love? Get 10 issues of The Hockey News magazine for just $15.99!