If you're a New York Islander fan who wants to keep John Tavares, you're probably wondering if the universe is conspiring against you, these days.
In November, the Islanders won seven of eight games to improve to 15-7-2. But evening during that hot streak the Isles gave up at least three goals five times.
Since then, the Islanders have been awful, going 5-12-2. In those 19 games, the Islanders have given up 78 goals. They've dropped five straight games in regulation, allowing 25 goals.
Lately, the offense has struggled, scoring just eight goals in their last five games.
Going back to mid-November, it was easy to think this team was coming together. Pick up a goalie. Enjoy a positive regular season. Confirm the new arena. Sign Tavares. Go deep in the playoffs. And live happily ever after.
But that didn't happen. First Calvin De Haan got hurt. He's out for the year. Then Johnny Boychuk was hurt. And now it looks like he's out until early February.
So where does that leave the Islanders?
They're sinking like a stone dropped in the East River. They need a goalie and they need at least one veteran defenseman -- SOON -- or their playoff hopes are toast.
On the other hand, is this team good enough to sell off future pieces -- draft picks or prospects -- and climb back in the race?
That's a risky bet, looking at the teams they're chasing in the Atlantic.
But the x-factor is Tavares.
If you don't play to win, what message are you sending to your soon-to-be-free-agent superstar?
Are you going to tell him to take the money and sit through another meaningless March and April and idle May? Do you think he he sticks around for that?
And if that's the plan, what are you doing with Josh Bailey, Brock Nelson, De Haan and Thomas Hickey? Do you start trading off these assets for draft picks and assets (Not De Haan, obviously, since he can't play and has no rental value)?
Signing Tavares was already looking like a rocky road for GM Garth Snow. That rocky road is downright dangerous since the Islanders have been socked by the bombogenesis of injuries, goaltending failures and slumps.
There's no easy way and obvious way forward for this team.