Last year the New York Islanders fell out of contention when the 402 man games lost to injury finally caught up with them in March. A lot of the writing here and in most media circles were that they would go into camp relatively healthy for about most of the summer.
This season the club will approach six hundred man games lost to injury by the time it's over.
That is the main storyline of the 2008-09 season because in a lot of ways 2007-08 never ended. DiPietro never got healthy from his knee surgery, Comrie & Sillinger played hurt or came back too early or were re-injured again and we never got to seem them at their best. Brendan Witt missed a stretch early but finally appears healthy, Radek Martinek, Andy Sutton, Freddy Meyer missed a lot of hockey.
I'm almost shocked Witt recovered fully from his third knee injury in the last calendar year.
Top six defenders on paper played about one game together.
Josh Bailey missed the early part of the season with two injuries, Bergenheim, Hunter, Nielsen, also missed significant time with Okposo.
Outside of Bill Guerin who did not play in preseason (until the end) coming off surgery himself was the only one who returned healthy and stayed off IR.
Doug Weight cannot be expected to play eighty two games and eventually was injured twice missing most of the second half. Even Mark Streit was not immune.
You can also put the coaches system in this mix when the veterans are asking for alterations and changes which were made, it was a factor given the prospects have played very competitive since late Jaunary.
Mostly though, this season was decided before it started. That game against Pittsburgh where they lost the three goal lead was the beginning of the end, even the games they were winning were more about the other team or MacDonald keeping them in.
I predicted this team to finish sixth and stand by that if they were healthy, the fact they have been so competitive with so many prospects in the lineup suggests with some healthy veterans scoring and a defense able to keep the pressure off they would have gotten more games to overtime and won.
Would the coaches system have become even a bigger story in why they failed to make the playoffs? Yes.
I wrote a lot about survival skills to get games to overtime the last two years.
That did not happen either which was another factor in the teams free fall out of contention.
Bottom line since Jaunary 2008 the New York Islanders have not gotten back to full strength. Even before that we now know Sillinger was playing hurt.