The late stage of this season has proven to be a rough stretch for the surprising New York Islanders. After a stellar campaign, when the Isles went 35-15-7 against teams ranked 8th and below, the team seems to have hit a wall of late. Plus. approaching the post-season, performance against the better teams is what counts and the Isles haven’t fared nearly as well, with a record of 6-14-1 versus teams ranked 1-7.

“This is all part of the growing process.” said GM Steve R. “We added some experience, bringing in Roman, Jussi, Casey and Mark, but the results haven’t been all that great since Mark arrived.”  Privately, however, nobody has given up hope that the new pairings and lines will gel when it counts.

In fact, since the deadline trade for Mark Giordano, who arguably became their highest rated player, the Isles haven’t won two games in a row. “Chemistry is key in this sport and sometimes performance is about more than ratings.” said GM Steve in a late night call.

With just 3 games to go, the Islanders backed into a clinch last night, losing 4-2 to a desperate Lightning team. They face Carolina at home tonight, then head up to Boston tomorrow for a Thursday matchup with the Bruins. The season ends back at Barclays Center when they face the Devils.

Times is running out for the team to gather itself for its first playoff appearance since 2010 when they lost in the 1st round to the then Trev-led Senators in a 6 game battle. “We’re back for some bonus hockey this season and you simply can’t predict the future. It’s a different game and our defense is as strong as any in the league.” said the GM, who then added “This is why we’ve kept coach Tortorella in place.”

There has been some speculation that the coach’s job is on the line here. If the Islanders don’t compete to management’s expectations, the front office may look at other options next season.