November 22, 2011
2:42 pm 0 comments
While no one expected the Islanders to have a shot at the Stanley Cup this season, many were hopeful the team would make a legitimate run at a playoff spot. The teams’ strong finish to last season gave management and fans alike something to look forward to. Key defenseman Mark Streit was returning to the lineup, in addition to a healthy Kyle Okposo. Assistant captain John Tavares had a full season under his belt, and a young core that included Josh Bailey and Blake Comeau also had another year of experience. Throw in some veteran leadership with the likes of Brian Rolston, Jay Pandolfo and Marty Reasoner- and the Islanders seemed ready to take that next step heading into the season, and no longer be a doormat for opposing teams.
What the hell happened?
Just 18 games into the season, the Islanders find themselves in yet another free fall similar to last season. The Islanders are now in the midst of a 2-12-0 tailspin in which they have been outscored 65-24. The team has been outscored 12-0 in their last 7 periods of play, and were embarrassed in front of a national audience last night in Pittsburgh when Sidney Crosby returned to action. Needless to say, the Islanders have been downright dreadful.
Who’s to blame? Management? The coaching staff? The players? Truth is, all have some responsibility for the team’s performance thus far. More importantly, what needs to be done to fix this mess? Trading some draft picks for Alex Ovechkin would be nice, but unfortunately Washington Capitals GM George McPhee will not likely go for that. So the question then becomes: What can be done? Remaining positive is not going to be enough. Many believe heads need to roll.
While GM Garth Snow didn’t exactly have a great off-season, I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for the ax to fall on him. Garth has had a tough job attracting free agents, and probably relied a bit to much on the development of his young players heading into the season. Still, when was the last time Snow has made a deal of significance to impact the team?
Do the Islanders fire their head coach again? Current head coach Jack Capuano seemed to have the team turned around last year after taking over for Scott Gordon, particularly late in the season. The players responded well to Capuano’s approach behind the bench, which was much different than Gordon’s. Has the team now tuned him out as well? Under the circumstances, I think Jack has done a fine job and deserves to stay. Who do you replace him with anyway?
The leaders in the locker room must start taking responsibility for the teams recent lackluster play- and take action to correct it. Tavares can’t do it all by himself. The veteran leaders on this team that contribute much less on the ice need to start showing their worth, or be shown the door.
The Islanders young core of players were supposed to take the next step in their development this season. Many are not doing their part. The most maligned culprits include Kyle Okposo, Blake Comeau and Josh Bailey. Between the three of them, they have played in 48 games and have only a single goal and 5 assists to show for it. Most nights they’ve been practically invisible on the ice. It wasn’t supposed to be this way.
What’s been most disturbing has been the Islanders recent uninspired play. The team has lost some spirit and toughness with the departures of Zenon Konopka to Ottawa, and the demotions of both Michael Haley and Trevor Gillies to Bridgeport. While no one is making them out to be world beaters, the Islanders do seem to be missing some of the intangibles these guys brought to the table.
Some scoring help wouldn’t hurt either. I guess you could say that for most teams, but 35 goals in 18 games (last in the league) is just not going to cut it. Okposo, Comeau and Bailey were being counted on in a big way to fill the net this season, and have been the biggest disappointments on the ice for the team. I like all of these guys, and think they possess a lot of talent. I honestly don’t know why they have been unable to produce. Nevertheless, the time has come to shake up this Islanders roster, and a change of scenery for some might be best.
The time is now for Garth to earn his paycheck. It’s still early, but the clock is already ticking on the Islanders season.