Though not mathematically eliminated, last night crushing 5-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils has the Islanders all but eliminated from the post season. While the team may have been playing important games in February and March — and that is certainly improvement over past years — it is not enough to challenge for the post season, not enough improvement for many fans, and I hope not enough for management.
There are many areas where it went wrong. I have long held the belief that coaching is a part of the problem. I look at the St. Louis Blues and where they were when Ken Hitchcock took over to where they are now, and it shows you what professional coaching can accomplish.
The Islander players —several of whom have had setback seasons, and others who are not meeting expectations — are just as culpable. Kyle Okposo has had another slow start and a bit of up and down after that. Michael Grabner did not come close to his production from last season, and hopefully is just suffering a sophomore slump, Josh Bailey had a slow start before finding some energy recently on the wing, Blake Comeau was a disaster for the Isles this season, and not much better for the Flames. Mark Striet, coming off a lost season to injury and a new captaincy has struggled. For a change, injuries were not part of the problem.
At the GM level, Garth Snow truly failed to bring in capable blueline help. he tried with Ehrhoff — which was fine, but he failed to bring in even “b-level” players such as Scott Hannan, and many others who could have been had.
The season is not “over.” There are still games to play, and I would like to see if the Islanders can amass enough wins to have a “winning” season. I think that is a very important part of the maturation process for this team, and I believe it would aid in convincing even marginal talent to consider the Islanders as a team ready to compete for a playoff berth, and continue to grow.
Many Islander fans throughout the blogosphere would suggest this is a set back season, and that wholesale changes are needed. Some may declare the rebuild a failure, others simply want to see a new owner who doesn’t meddle in the on ice decisions.
I think I am somewhere in the middle.
Sometimes the bad comes along with some of the good.
Overall there are problems with many aspects of the Islanders system, but where we are now, vs. where we were 5 years ago is night and day. The Islanders are moving in the right direction, though I certainly would make some changes — which I will get into at a later time.
For those who think it is still possible for the Islanders to make a run — sure — mathematically it is possible. But the reality starts with a question. How many points will the Islanders need to get into the playoffs?
Ill guess that at a minimum, they will need 88 points. I would ordinarily suggest 90+, but no one is staking their claim or making a run of any significance, with the exception of Buffalo, and even they have stumbled here and there. So if you take it at face value of 88 points, with 15 games left and 65 points in hand….
The Schedule – road vs home
NJD vs NYI
NYI vs NYR
WAS vs NYI
PHI vs NYI
NYI vs MTL
NYI vs TOR
NYI vs TBL
NYI vs FLA
NYI vs PIT
PIT vs NYI
BOS vs NYI
OTT vs NYI
NYI vs NJD
WIN vs NYI
NYI vs CBJ
So there it is — 30 points on the table, and the Isles would need at minimum 23 of those points. What would be realistic? Sure — The Islanders have beaten every team here except the Panthers, Leafs, Penguins and of course the Blue Jackets. There is very little margin for error. If the trend were to continue, and the Isles can’t beat the Leafs, Pens and Cats — that takes away 8 points alone, and if they won every other game — would leave them with 87 points.
Bottom line to reach 88 points — the Isles would have to go 11-3-1. Possible? Sure, but the reality is a darn shame. My guess is that the only chance the Islanders have is to be closer to 84 points, and hope the teams around them continue to struggle as they have.
What would your prediction be and what is your reality?
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: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: http://twitter.com/FilamentDesigns