You may have noticed that I did not post any thoughts on the clunker the Islanders put up on Thursday. I will go into things a bit today, I have had enough time to decompress and really analyze where I wanted to take the discussion.
The sky is not falling, the bottom has not fallen out and there is no need to start a Tavares watch! These three common message board themes are a ridiculous line of thinking. It’s to the point where I visit message boards less and less because it’s the same rhetoric repeated over and over. Look, the team is not playing great – but we are only 6 games into the season – SIX! Six games is not an adequate cross section to determine the overall season outcome.
Things take time, they do. You cannot throw together a team with a new coach and EXPECT instant success – sure we can all hope, but I hope I run into $10-million dollars today.
Islanders fans have been calling for a rebuild for a long time, this is part of the process. Players like Okposo, Tambellini, Gervais, Campoli, Hillen, Pock and Nielsen are not going to be overnight successes. For the most part this is the first REAL chance any of them have had under any head coach the Isles have had. Everyone needs to learn the system, stick to the system and have it be second nature to play the system in order for it to be successful.
I saw glimpses of positive things during the Dallas game, that’s even without the rose colored glasses. Bill Guerin went to the front of the net – AND scored. Mark Streit scored a pretty back door goal on the power play. Jon Sim – well he FINALLY scored, maybe that monkey is off his back. The veterans called a team meeting – something that needed to be done. That shows me that this team cares – losing is not acceptable and neither is tanking regardless of any amount of first round draft picks. I also noticed the forecheck becoming increasingly effective. Less dump and chasing and more puck control along the boards is giving them offensive zone control often enough that they should be looking at more scoring chances.
With the positives, there are also negatives.
Brendan Witt lost to injury, although everyone around the organization is quiet about it. I saw him on the receiving end of a nasty knee-on-knee collision and knew it wouldn’t be good. He was grimacing and had a problem putting weight on it. In his place – Jack Hillen, although Andy Sutton is about a week away from returning. Witt was chased down on the way to room Six by Greg Logan – although Witt wasn’t very chatty.
Bad defensive breakdowns lead to too many virtual empty goals.
Penalties – they need to stay out of the penalty box at all costs.
Power Play, 5 shots and 5 posts on one power play…..close – but no cigar.
Positioning without the puck, I am fairly certain the reason why Gordon had no voice during his press conference was because he was giving his team a stern talking to about this subject. The Islanders were HORRIBLE without the puck. Bad positioning causes bad turnovers, bad defensive support and almost zero chance of a pass landing on the tape. Last but not least – you will have plenty of trouble with a breakout if you can’t find an open man.
Lastly, taking a bench minor while on the power play. That just cannot happen, especially on a two man advantage.
I can tell that the team is coming around, but I just hope that injuries do not destroy whatever forward momentum the team has accomplished – however small it may be.