Opinion

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Issues and What To Do?

Posted by on 20 Feb 2013 | Tagged as: News, Opinion, Post Game, Rant

So we’re just just past the quarter pole of the season and we’ve seen such inconsistency that it’s maddening. Oh to be a fly on the wall of the locker room.

We’ve seen this team come out flying and score goals in the first minute of play and dominate for a full 60, but we’ve also seen the same team come out and look lost and allow goals in the first :27 seconds or less of periods. I’ve seen blame placed upon everything from the owner, to the coach, preparedness, the captain, lack of talent, lack of defense, size – everything.

What are the answers?

That’s a great question. One that I find myself asking as I watch these games from the comfort of my living room with a scowl on my face and sore throat from yelling at the TV.

Let’s analyze.

The Talent

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Up front we have Tavares, Moulson and Boyes. While this line has put up points and John has entered beast mode at times, he cannot do it alone. I watch this guy bust his hump game in and game out and teams pay lots of attention to him. Why? Because the talent around him while good, can’t keep pressure off of him most nights. Sure, they can compete with that first line, but he needs someone who can open up space and be as big of a threat as him so he can penetrate the defense without too much trouble and not have four guys hanging all over him.

At the same time, because he draws that many players to him those around him need to get into better position. Something that doesn’t always happen. Moulson gets to the net, creates traffic and is handy with his stick depositing shots – but only when they get through. Boyes shows flashes of being a smart playmaker, but he gets pushed off the puck and causes turnovers at times. I’d really hoped for more out of him and I’m not sure he belongs on JT’s wing.

As we move down the depth chart – we have Grabner who’s speed and defensive play cause fits but he often can’t finish. Nielsen with his defensive play, while he’s a smart player he doesn’t seem to have much as far as offense this season. Bailey has looked better this year, but we haven’t seen enough of him. Ullstrom and Cizikas have been a pleasant surprise. I’d like to see Ullstrom up on JT’s wing for a game or two actually.

Okposo. I’ve never been as disappointed in a player as I have been with Kyle. He seems lazier this year, perhaps because he opted to not play during the lockout and it’s a matter of conditioning? Two games in a row he’s taken penalties that have killed momentum and have been in the offensive zone. You just cannot do that. He’s haphazardly back checked and tried too hard to make pretty plays with the puck. He needs to use his head and slow his game down a touch. He’s been all over the place in the lineup, and last night he looked OK until he decided to be a bonehead.

Aucoin and McDonald – two serviceable guys who deserve spot duty in the NHL, but would be better served down with Bridgeport. Aucoin I’d actually go and say he’s good enough to stick, but I think it’s because of our depth issue.

Reasoner – well, we know what we have there and why the team is shopping him. He actually played ok last night in Ottawa, but as much as this team needs a veteran, he doesn’t fit and hasn’t fit since was signed. Experiment over.

If he’s waived or traded, it’s time for Niederreiter to be called up.

The Defense

This has been a tough year – as noted by our waiver wire addiction.

Hickey has looked good, I like not noticing a player much until he makes that solid play and he hasn’t looked out of place. Finley, well – we could do better but he serves a purpose when he’s around. Carkner has added toughness and been an ok defenseman and I’m actually a little upset he’s been injured. They need his fire.

Visnovsky has been as advertised. I just wish he was a few years younger because he adds an element that this team needs – a secondary power play QB. He seems to like the team, thankfully – and plays every night. Not to say he hasn’t made mistakes though.

Our Captain, Streit – he’s struggled but has given glimpses of the player he was in his first season on the team. I’ve not changed my mind in that he was a bad choice for captain. He would never do as Giroux did for the Flyers and call out his teammates. He should’ve after the 7-0 shutout though. I would have. Sometimes you need to get pissed as a leader and veteran. Just look at what assistant coach Doug Weight did with his “paint peeling” speech last week. We need THAT fire and excitement.

Strait is hurt and that’s a shame. He’s been solid and deserves that contract. A fractured ankle will likely see him gone the rest of the season. I suppose we’ll see the man-o-glass Martinek replace him this week at some point.

MacDonald – oh what happened to you? You’ve gone from a steady workhorse to someone who’s positional play has gotten away from what it was. You’re playing too many minutes friend.

Hamonic – thank goodness for you. You’re the best we have on the rear guard corps, but like your partner you are playing too many minutes. This just screams lack of depth and poor coaching.

It’s clear to me that Capuano trusts who he trusts and is hesitant to change much up. Sounds exactly the way Scott Gordon was and we know how that ended.

The Goaltenders

Nabokov has been outstanding for a player creeping up there in age. He’s been overplayed though and hung out to dry more often than not with his defense.

DiPietro – I’ll get lambasted for saying this, but he’s been ok. Not great, not good – but just ok. Sure last night he flubbed that glove save and it put the game out of reach, but when you don’t allow your goalie to see the puck you can’t expect him to automatically make a save, I don’t care who it is in net.

Final Thoughts

I’ve been writing about this team since 2006, been a fan my entire life and have seen a lot of crazy things go on with the organization.

What I cannot wrap my mind around is the lack of effort by Charles Wang to put a genuine NHL product on the ice. Garth Snow is always forced to assemble a majority of his team with tape and bubble gum and that’s no way to form a contender, let alone a professional hockey team. His hands are tied for the most part – I don’t agree with the thoughts that he’s a bad GM and I’m curious to see how good he can be if he was ACTUALLY free to do what he wants.

Sure there are a ton of issues going on behind the scenes with the pending move to Brooklyn, but enough is enough.

The Islanders are wrecking these years with John Tavares. Plain and simple.

While the farm is stocked with a ton of good prospects – we seem to be stuck in this repetitive cycle of poor management. It’s painful to watch as a fan, I’m sure it’s no better as a player.

We should be going hard as we move towards Brooklyn. The fans in on Long Island deserve to make the old barn rock at least one more time.

I’m tired of feeling as if we’re constantly lied to as a fan base – and I know a lot of other fans out there feel the same way.

I look forward to better days and we’ve been teased with what it’ll be like once we get there.

Tell me you’re feelings or ideas in the comment section. I’m open for debate.

The Curious Case of Blake Comeau

Posted by on 20 Oct 2011 | Tagged as: Opinion, Roster Moves

For the second time in two straight games, Islanders forward Blake Comeau finds himself on the outside looking in – or more appropriately, on the topside looking down.

As always, there has been wild speculation as to head coach Jack Capuano’s decision to shelve Comeau in favor of heavyweight Trevor Gillies. In Gillies’ appearance last weekend against the Rangers – he played under three minutes after all – so this leads to further confusion, speculation.

On one hand, the mere possibility of Gillies playing or pummeling someone is as good of a deterrent as any. Policing if you will. On the other, it gives Capuano an option, at least a second option with Matt Martin in the lineup. It’s no secret that in the games without Gillies around, players have taken liberties with several Islanders. Perhaps Capuano is experimenting with added toughness in the lineup – before things get out of hand for his club.

But many question, and rightfully so – scratching a player who averages 12-18 minutes a game in favor of someone who averages TWO.

Let’s work it out:

In three games this season – Comeau has played 39:25, has two penalty minutes and, ONE shot on goal.

In the games I’ve seen Comeau skate this season – I haven’t been very impressed. He’s been slow to the puck, made questionable decisions on both sides and hasn’t generated much. Comeau started off last season slow as well – perhaps it just takes him a while for him to find his groove.

I’ve seen some talk on Twitter asking why Comeau over Bailey, so to be fair here are Bailey’s stats for the four games he’s played:

Josh Bailey has 3 shots and 2 PIM in 56:29 played. While it’s not too much better, perhaps Capuano sees more on Bailey’s game at this point.

I’ve also heard Capuano repeatedly refer to “passengers on the bus”, both after a loss and a win so far – so to me he’s unhappy with effort out of some of his players.

At the end of the day, this is just part of the game – it doesn’t mean a player is about to be traded or there is a huge conspiracy behind anything that’s happening. It’s a coach holding his players accountable for their play – and that’s what good coaches do.

In other words, move along folks – nothing to see here.

Another Reason to Vote YES on August 1st

Posted by on 29 Jul 2011 | Tagged as: General, News, Opinion

They often say that a picture is worth a thousand words – well videos convey feelings and emotions in ways words often come up short.

Flash back to the 2002 Playoffs – Islanders vs Toronto

Shawn Bates is screaming down the left boards and gets taken down in front of CuJo. The Islanders are awarded their third playoff penalty shot in team history….well you know how it ends.

Many people are using attendance as a reason to Vote NO on Monday. History has shown that there are a ton of Islanders fans waiting, wishing and most importantly – WANTING for another shot at the playoffs. The Coliseum can be a loud and intimidating place, many teams have said so and continue to say the same.

Take a listen for yourself, 16,000 Islanders fans – all rooting for Long Island’s only professional sports franchise. If you vote no on Monday, the only thing you’ll here is silence – so go ahead and listen to the amazing sound and excitement the Coliseum is set to hear in the near future:

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If you build it, they will come. Jobs will be saved, you’ll help the local economy and most importantly – keep Long Island, specifically Nassau County, a destination for people to come and enjoy for generations.

Without the Islanders and the Coliseum there’s not much more than some white noise and the occasional strip mall – if you can find a store that’s still open anyway.

Do Long Island and Nassau County a favor – Vote YES on Monday August, 1st. Help the Islanders create more history, and complete their Drive for Five!

The Case FOR Nick Boynton

Posted by on 01 Feb 2010 | Tagged as: Opinion, Roster Moves, Waivers

It’s not everyday that a serviceable 6’1″ 218 LB 31-year old defenseman is waived by his team, it’s even rarer of an occasion where your struggling and injured team can benefit by picking him up and NOT MOVE A PLAYER IN RETURN.

Such is the case that Islanders GM Garth Snow will find himself in should he opt to claim Nick Boynton off of waivers before 12 o’clock tomorrow afternoon.

Why should Snow put in a claim?

Let’s see, the team has now lost five straight and is still on the playoff bubble stalled at 54 points. The Islanders defensive corps is battered and bruised, having to resort to calling up two stop gaps in Dustin Kohn and Andrew MacDonald (MacDonald is playing over 21 minutes a game and has been impressive, but I digress). Jack Hillen was felled to a broken jaw thanks to Alex Ovechkin’s slapshot last week and will be out 6-8 weeks. Veteran tough guy d-man Brendan Witt has a leg injury and will be out for another 2-3 weeks at best. Lastly on the injury front, Radek Martinek (aka Glass Man) was lost to a knee injury earlier this season and will be out indefinitely.

Looking further into the depth of the Islanders d-corps depth chart:

Bruno Gervais, is just not cutting it and seems to finding himself in the red in the plus/minus column more often than not. His recent pairing with Mark Streit has allowed him better play, thankfully.

Freddy Meyer (FMIV) bounces in and out of the lineup and has been decent, but he is not a top four d-man.

You’re current top four – Andy Sutton, Mark Streit, Bruno Gervais and Andrew MacDonald. The Islanders need defensive help and they need it now.

Boynton is set to make $700,000 for the rest of this season and is a pending UFA, so it’s not really a high risk move by any means. Should Boynton clear waivers, he will be sent down to the Ducks AHL affiliate and if summoned back to the NHL will be exposed to re-entry waivers and only costing a team $350,000 at that point.

To me, shaking up your team and giving them depth by adding a waiver wire claim seems like a good move. Pundits can claim that Boynton has played for three teams in two seasons, he has had his struggles in Anaheim and doesn’t fit the Islanders system. However, the failed experiment this weekend in Philly with Trevor Gillies should point out the need for toughness in the lineup – which Boynton can bring. Looking over his fight card this season (3 fights in his limited playing time) he has fought some tough opponents.

I say give him a shot Garth, but that’s just my opinion – if he doesn’t work out, no harm no foul and you have given up NOTHING.

What do you all think? Discuss in the comments section.