Walking from the Press Box to the Islanders locker room Saturday night following the Islanders 2-1 loss to the Flyers (their 7th in a row), I turned to Gary Harding of EyesonIsles.com and said “ this is not going to be pleasant”. As we reached the tunnel that leads to the locker room, the doors were closed, and remained that way for almost 10 minutes before we were allowed into the room. As I customarily do, I followed Stan Fischler and his camera crew into the room and we found Matt Moulson sitting by his locker. He answered Stan’s questions in the appropriate tone of voice and made no excuses. We moved on to James Wisniewski, and if you didn’t already know, Wisniewski wears his emotions on his sleeve. There was no hiding his disgust for another loss and the fact the team still has 3 more games in this ridiculous 12 of 15 on the road stretch. The theme we heard, especially from Dwayne Roloson and Scott Gordon was the effort was there. Gordon, who is looking increasingly uncomfortable recently, talked about how the team played physical and created confusion for good stretches of the game, only in the 3rd period they let the Flyers take the play to them which ended up with the game winner. He talked about how the team is “fighting it” though he feels more comfortable going out west for 3 games this week after seeing better efforts the past 2 games.
If you translate all of this into English….it means the Islanders are in deep trouble.
First of all, during the course of their 7 game losing streak, the Islanders have been outscored 31-12. They have not scored a 1st period goal in 5 games, and the stat that just blows my mind, not once during this losing streak, have the Islanders held a lead. Those are some scary statistics. The question I get most is, how can a team that gained points in 6 of the first 7 games, be this terrible now? My opinion, the players on the ice have a history of inconsistency, so you’ll have stretches the team will look like contenders, and other times they look like a lottery team. Guys like Comeau, Hunter, Parenteau and Schremp have always been considered streaky. That’s what we’ve seen so far this year. Now that the effort has been back, the scoring has gone on hiatus. In a nutshell, the only way the Islanders are going to compete, is they have to outwork the opposing team each and every shift. Without that, well, go back and watch the game against the Hurricanes last week.
Now, let’s discuss the 800lb gorilla in the room. Scott Gordon’s job security. First of all, anyone in the Islanders organization can give him a vote of confidence, Garth can say that he feels the Isles will snap out of it, it means nothing to me. Gordon’s job as coach is to find a way to have the players on his team improve (part of the reason he was hired was he was supposed to be great with young players) and to win. He’s done a questionable job on the first part, and not a lot of the second part. I had this discussion with fellow blogger Rob McGowan (thehockeywriters.com) yesterday, Rob feels that changing coaches at this point wouldn’t serve any purpose, and changing coaching styles isn’t what’s right for this team, and he may be correct, my opinion is that Gordon has had a minimal affect over the past 2 + seasons and changing coaches wouldn’t hurt at this point. I’m not saying Gordon is a bad coach, but seriously last season he had an 18 point improvement over the season before, his first season Joey MacDonald and Yann Danis were his goaltenders, and his top goal scorer had just 18 goals (Kyle Okposo). Last season he had Dwayne Roloson and Marty Biron plus Snow added top offensive players Matt Moulson and 1st overall pick John Tavares, who combined added 54 goals. Of course there was going to be an improvement. The Islanders finished 5th to last in the NHL and if they hadn’t tied Pittsburgh in the 3rd period of the final game (only to lose in OT) they would have had tied for 3rd worst. Last ugly stat….(promise) The Islanders have won just 6 games on the road this calendar year.
Needless to say, if the Islanders struggle in Anaheim, San Jose and Los Angeles, and come home having lost 10 games in a row, the pressure on Scott Gordon and Garth Snow to make a move, will be tremendous. Something will have to be done, either a trade to shake up the roster, or maybe a change behind the bench. Who knows, but at this point, you have to admit things are dangerously close to being out of control for both Gordon and Snow.
About the Author: The New York Islanders have been a huge part of my life since I was 7 years old, and during the past 27 years I have experience many ups and downs with this team. The back end of 4 straight Stanley Cups, the Drive for 5, the Easter Epic, trading of my heroes John Tonelli, and Kelly Hrudey. Mike Bossy's early retirement, Pat LaFontaine for Pierre Turgeon, Dale Hunter, David Volek, Ron Hextall, Al Arbour's retirement, Bill Torrey to Florida, Mike Milbury, John Spano, The Milstein's, Hoistgate, the sale to Charles Wang, Draft Day 2000, Alexei Yashin and Michael Peca, Milbury's "reassignement", 40 days of Neil Smith, Ted Nolan, The Lighthouse Project, Kate Murray, Scott Gordon, going from 5 to 7 to 9, Josh Bailey, John Tavares, Calvin deHaan, El Nino, the 2 Kirill's and hopefully.....much, much more. I have been an Islanders blogger for the past 3 years, starting on Myspace, then for IslesNation.com and currently for HockeyIndependent.com, and I have been selected to the 2010-2011 New York Islanders Blog Box. I am an IT Manager for a quite large facility working for a government agency. I am married for 7 years to an incredibly patient woman and am the proud father of a beautiful 1 year old daughter. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: Twitter.com/tonystabile