Just wanted to spend a few minutes ahead of tonight’s tilt with the Boston Bruins to get some thoughts down about what’s in store for the team and what has happened the last few games.
If you caught my USTREAM video thoughts, my biggest concerns for the team are Scoring, Toughness and Defense. Not that they are in any particular order, but toughness is a big issue for me.
For one, the one on one battles for the puck just never seem to go well for the team. It’s not that all the forwards are small-ish or cannot get the job done, it’s just that every other team seems to be larger and stronger. Chalk it up to a young team in a rebuild I guess. Fortunately for the Islanders, they have Jesse Joensuu at their beck and call down in Bridgeport. I loved what I saw out of Joensuu last season during his time with the Islanders because I felt he was a true power forward that the Islanders have sorely missed (not a knock on Okposo mind you).
When I saw Joensuu play down in Bridgeport’s win last weekend at Harbor Yard, I knew it would only be a matter of time before we saw him again. Joensuu had three points on the night (1 goal and 2 assists) and just seemed to be involved in every single play. Maybe I wasn’t the only one who noticed these positives about his game, because he was recalled earlier this week by the Islanders and will be on a line with Shremp and Comeau per reports from practice.
Last week, Chris Botta pointed out on his blog some reports about Josh Bailey and how the Islanders appeared to be “turning him into a third-liner”. For reasons that seem to be genuine, Bailey has been moved to left wing next to Thompson and Park. Scott Gordon claims this is to help Bailey round out his game and ensure he can win battles along the wall, hopefully it is something temporary and doesn’t do too much damage to the young players confidence.
The Islanders have lost the last few games, but have shown the same glimpses that the team understands what they are supposed to do to succeed. Their forecheck has been outstanding at times and teams go through fits establishing opposing pressure at times – that is until there are defensive lapses. The Islanders defensive corps are thin, and makes you really value injured players like Radek Martinek and Andy Sutton for what they add to the team. It also drives home the point that if any moves are made here after the Holiday’s – it MUST be a defenseman. Scoring will also help, but unless the Islanders are willing to sacrifice some of their youth or prospects – the return won’t be a game changer. Either way, there are glaring holes in the roster right now, especially when your last first round pick, taken first overall – has your last five goals scored.
I will be heading out to the Coliseum shortly, when I arrive and set up I will be doing a LIVE USTREAM broadcast which should be fun! Be sure to check back around game time for the links and embedded video!