If there is one thing that the New York Islanders have excelled at over the past 4 seasons — where they are among the league lead in the NHL and in fact the hockey world — injuries. The 2010-11 campaign is no different. The roller coaster season which started in solid fashion, also kicked off a season of injuries. Before the puck was dropped, 2 of the teams best players were out long term, and 2 more promising players were down with nagging problems. The team has not been healthy at all and though they got off to a good start, the injuries piled up with each game. It was a part of the 14 game losing streak that destroyed the season.
The ink was barely dry on the trade that sent Dwayne Roloson — perhaps the team MVP — to Tampa Bay when Rick DiPietro went down with yet another injury. This time it was his groin — maybe. Enter Nathan Lawson, who finished the game strong. To that, we add Frans Neilsen who is clearly not playing today against the Avalanche. From there we can include Mark Eaton to the defensive units injury parade. They have not said his hip surgery will keep him out for the season, but lets be real — there wont be much more then pride to play for in early April even if he is eligible to play by then.
The list so far:
Mark Striet: Ostensibly done for the year.
Kyle Okposo: Has yet to play, is skating, should play in about 35-40 games.
Mark Eaton: Lost for half a season.
Rob Schremp: Missed the first 3 weeks or so.
Rick DiPietro: Has missed a few games with “swelling” in the knee. Now back to NY in the midst of a rad trip — who knows how long he is out!
Frans Neilsen: Not sure how long this will last — could be a few weeks, we just dont know.
Mike Mottau: Gone for the season — played less then half the year.
Milan Jurcina: Lost 6 weeks.
Andy MacDonald: Lost a little more then a month.
Trent Hunter: Played 17 games, lost for the year.
Doug Weight: Played 18 games — no sign of returning.
Radek Martinek: Played 29 games, now down on IR with a wrist problem, no idea when he returns.
It seems that in each year, the Islanders lead the league in man games lost to injury. It certainly does not help when we hear that Calvin De Haan got hurt in the WJC again. Here is another excellent player that looks great — when healthy. Seems like he will fit into the Isles family perfectly. Is it bad luck, or is there a flaw in off-season training? Are players not “ready” to go? Even if you look at some of the players the Islanders recently had — they too got hurt when wearing blue and orange. Sean Bergenheim tended to be injured at some point during the season for good periods of time. Michael Peca was hurt during the playoffs in 2001. Alexi Yashin was putting up good numbers when a freak accident severed the tendons of his wrist/arm and he was lost for significant time. Yashin missed time again with a significant leg injury in 2007. Ryan Smyth arrived, played a few games and was hurt — though he played through it. Sean Hill lost time, Sean Bates lost his career. Im not one to suggest the team is cursed by injury woes — but this needs to end at some point. There needs to be some luck to go the other way – right?
Who Are These Guys?
Another place the Islanders have found consistency — and in a good way — is one the ice. The Islanders are tied for second best in the NHL over the last 10 games. Vancouver has gone 9-0-1 over their last 10 games for 19 points. But the Islanders, along with Minnesota, and Tampa Bay have gone on identical 7-2-1 runs for 15 points. The Philadelphia Flyers have gone 7-3-0 for 14 points. When I look at this, I can’t help but think — who are these guys, and what have they done with the my New York Islanders? It is a very solid run, and enough can’t be said about some key players.
Milan Jurcina: What a nice player he has been for the Isles. Most of us can’t help but wonder if he has become a key part of the team — perhaps in the room. The team has done so much better with Milan in on the ice. A lot of it has to do with the way he plays, but his size is a factor — and welcome on an otherwise small team. I was very pleased that he was extended into next year.
Andy MacDonald: Picked up where he left off before he got hurt, and continues to impress. On a “better team” he might be a #3-4 defenseman, but he has done very well. It seems he is getting his due as other fans around the league are taking notice.
Travis Hamonic: I was very skeptical about bringing Hamonic up too early, but he has been impressive. Whiile he makes some errors — and that is to be expected — he is exactly where A-Mac was last year. This time with the Isles has been invaluable. At this point — Hamonic is a net gain over what Wisniewski was offering the Islanders. That is not mean to be a knock on Wiz. Wisniewski is a very good 2nd pair defenseman who was being asked to do far too much on Long Island, and I don’t think he meshed within the system Gordon used. Still, Hamonic continues to shine, and is a part of the recent turn-around the team has enjoyed.
John Tavares: a lot of people have begun to get frustrated by Tavares because he seems to run hot/cold. Right now he is red hot. It is far to early in his career to say he is going to be “this” or “that.” But what I dont like is when people expect a player to “be” someone else. John Tavares is just that — John Tavares. He is not Alex Ovechkin, or Sid Crosby, or Brian Trottier. It is hard enough to be a pro athlete — we need to let Tavares be Tavares. Right now — he is red hot, and playing with confidence.
The Scrap Heap Boys
In a future post, I plan to write in greater detail about the quartet of Matt Moulson, Michael Grabner, P.A. Parenteau and Robbie Schremp. These four players have been very good for the Islanders and all four were left on the NHL cutting room floor. This is yet another area where the Islanders seem to do very well — perhaps because they have the roster space and offer the ice time to players who are otherwise cast-aways. This list includes Tom Poti, Vicktor Kozlov and in many ways Jason Blake. The current stats on all four put them on pace as follows (assuming health — which is a HUGE factor with this team!)
Matt Moulson: 30 goals, 15 assists for 45 total points. That puts him 3 points shy of last years totals.
Rob Schremp: 19 goals, 22 assists for 41 total points. These totals are a bit more modest for Schremp as he has cooled off a bit. It would be nice for him to cross the 20 goal plateau — but regardless of that, it would be a career year for Schremp and certainly one that shows progress.
Michael Grabner: 20 goals, 6 assists for 26 total points. This is a player left for dead by Vancouver and Florida. 26 points by itself does not say much — but 20 goals off of the waiver wire is pretty impressive. These numbers SCREAM finisher. With a true play-maker on his line, could Grabner get to be a consistent 20-25 goal producer?
P.A. Parenteau: 19 goals, 32 assists for 51 total points. As I wrote in another blog — P.A. is this generation of Isles fans Derek King. It seems no matter what Parenteau does, the fans will see him as a “hack.” Much like his fellow scrap heapers — he is near the 20 goal plateau. Not a bad pick up for an Isles team that doesn’t score.
- If these numbers bare out, the totals for these 4 players would be 88 goals, 75 assists and a total of 163 points. As of now, the team collectively has scored 90 goals through 38 games. Essentially half the season. Give or take, these 4 players will account for half of the teams offense when it is all said and done. Garth Snow is going to need to make some decisions about these players. Grabner and Schremp are restricted but Parenteau and Moulson are UFA at season’s end. Would you resign them now? Or would you trade them before the deadline?
I think all of us put hand to forehead when we say DiPietro go off the ice against the Flames last week. Of course. We just traded Rollie so why not! Typical. But the value the Isles got, and the timing are fine. the Islanders got a big defenseman who, like the Grabner’s, Schremp’s, and Moulson’s will get a chance to play and we will discover if he is an NHL caliber player. Ty Wishart comes with that former 1st round pedigree. I still believe we will see Wishart some time in the coming weeks once the team returns home from this road trip.
Interesting factoid: The Islanders now have a line-up of first round picks that in some cases came with much fan fare — and in other cases, not so much. Some are reclamation projects. Time will tell if they pan out. Some of these players are NOT on the current NHL roster, but this is a fun list…
Calvin de Haan
Filed Under: New York Islanders
About the Author: A graphic designer who loves the game....and knows that age has slowed him down — but the passion is there. Islanders fan since the 70s, Dad, Husband and Coach of the Flying Tiger's Email: email@example.com Twitter: http://twitter.com/FilamentDesigns