Jack Capuano ‘losing patience’ with Islanders (and he’s not alone)

Matt Niskanen scored two goals and the Washington Capitals doubled up the New York Islanders.

To do an image search for “Jack Capuano” is to unwrap a collage of a man distraught.

There’s the photos of the New York Islanders long-serving head coach screaming at his players or barking at the officials. Angry ones, pouty ones, lost ones. The shot of him gazing to the rafters for answers that won’t fall is a standard. For this article, we chose the one with him smearing his flushed face with his right hand.

Frustration, thy home is Brooklyn.

“I’m losing my patience a little bit with some of these guys, and you have to hold guys accountable,” Capuano told reporters Tuesday night after another home loss, a 4-2 defeat to the Capitals. “We got some decisions that we need to make.”

The coach added that “we don’t have a lot of guys in the bullpen” to make lineup changes, but he will “talk with management.”

Ah, management.

General manager Garth Snow has stood by his bench boss through the recent highs — consecutive 100-point seasons and the Isles’ first playoff series win in 23 years — and even more recent lows.

Snow also decided to hand big cheques to underwhelming, past-their-prime free agents Andrew Ladd, 31, and Jason Chimera, 37, while Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen walked to greener pastures.

Last week, Snow gave significant term to fourth-line role player Cal Clutterbuck, as he did Casey Cizikas six months ago. He insists on carrying three goaltenders, the extra one dangling from the roster like an albatross.

Captain and franchise pillar John Tavares — free agency 2018! — had developed superb chemistry with wingers Matt Moulson and Okposo over the years. Both moved upstate to Buffalo. Tavares had a nice five-game point streak going until Tuesday night and leads his team in every meaningful category, including loyalty.

As if to underscore the point, Okposo, the Sabres’ leading scorer, was enjoying a three-assist night while New York took another L.


To be fair, Brock Nelson has been a solid producer, late UFA pickup Dennis Seidenberg was a steal on the back end, and the Isles have the misfortune of skating in the NHL’s best division.

Still, questionable decision-making from the top down and a recent ownership change have left a storied franchise’s future cloudy at best. Ownership has reportedly backed Snow and Capuano while thumbing through the alumni directory for a new face off-ice.

Fans have cast their vote via absence. The Islanders’ home attendance has slipped from third worst to second worst. At an average of 12,559 filled seats per game, the Barclays gate is down more than 1,000 people a night.

“It’s frustrating, because you know the ability is there. I don’t know where it’s gone,” Capuano said. “I’m talking about keeping the puck on your stick, possessing the puck, just not throwing it away. Getting the puck and just handing it back to the other team? Where’s the poise, where’s the confidence? Those are the things I’m talking about. I’m talking about the intangibles of the game.”

The tangibles aren’t so hot, either.

The Islanders’ points percentage (0.482) is the worst in the East, and they rank below the norm in every major team statistical category: 18th in offence, 24th in defence, 29th in power play, 16th in penalty kill, 19th in shots for, and 28th in shots against (not including this one).

It may not get much better. Despite a penchant for blowing leads, the Isles are actually luckier than the majority of teams this season, ranking 12th in PDO.

“It seems like we’re always in the game after the second period,” trade bait Jaroslav Halak told reporters. “Going into the third, we just find a way to lose the games. That’s what’s going on right now. We need to find a way to win games. That’s the bottom line.”

Many supporters have screamed for a new coach, a new GM, or both. Fans of the other 29 teams want Tavares to flee.

Even scarier: If this isn’t rock bottom, it’s coming next season, when the Islanders have even less cap flexibility. For 2017-18, Snow has already committed between $2.2 million and $6 million to 16 different players on a roster that ranks last in the conference.

These are stressful times, with little light at the end of the tunnel.

No sleep in Brooklyn.

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