Sunday was a little like revisiting opening night, New York playing Florida, five hundred record.
Of course, no team was 0-0, a big part of the story has already been written.
The 4-1 loss is a part of that story.
We all know what happened opening night was no fluke. The Panthers turned out to be a good skating team, despite a lot of questionable signings of struggling players, they dominated the Isles top to bottom in the opener and it exposed weakness that showed up many times afterward.
On Sunday Florida was simply more opportunistic, pucks found the net for them, the scoreboard did not reflect the play for the first two periods or the third where New York carried play trailing, the second period was where this game was decided.
For the moment, New York remains well on the outside of the playoff picture, it's going to take something very special and entirely unlikely from this group for that to change, but considering this blog called it a sixty game exhibition schedule earlier it's hard to have realistic playoff expectations.
The signs clearly show this is not a team hitting on all cylinders. Buffalo, Philadelphia and the Kings outworked the New York Islanders for big parts of games and they got four of six points. Sure the Isles outworked Montreal (to a large degree Florida) and almost got shutout so it evens out.
Still, it's not enough, not close.
At this time, Nabokov has stepped up his game, however Tavares line has recently struggled to produce, there are injury issues, primary and secondary scoring problems. Despite Mark Streit's overtime game winning goal, his five goals are not nearly enough on a very low scoring defense with the least goals in the NHL.
Aaron Ness has done well, he's not going to carry anything at this stage of his career. Steve Staios for all the negative commentary he has received here has been excellent lately and doing all he can, same for Eaton and Jurcina.
It's not from a lack of effort.
Next comes the travel/fatigue, except for Howie Rose of course, unless he's going to Florida.
The kind of games Nabokov won against Philadelphia, and Los Angeles are the kind both goaltenders if called upon will likely need to steal against a high-energy/scoring team at times in Winnipeg, absolutely against the Ken Hitchcock Blues.
Those seven games in eleven days will take it's toll this week.
No hiding from the standings, the teams between them, or the clubs in playoff position.
Ultimately all of this will be a big part of what Garth Snow decides to do at the deadline, the rest is just a lot of words and speculation.