For all that went wrong it was one heck of a struggle to finish dead last a year ago.
The way some folks write about the team they finished 30th by twenty points and it was clinched by November 15th.
When you add in the injuries, one-goal losses and the early blown leads in the end it took a horrible December & January and even that was not enough to guarantee anything until the final games.
Colorado went from a playoff spot to almost finishing 30th very quickly in a dramatic free fall.
If the man games lost to injury got the play the Coliseum did more folks would understand that this season is different from a year ago.
That's the good news which any semblance of health should help fix to a degree.
Bad news is this is not the same team with veteran scorers like Comrie, Guerin, or Sillinger that kept them in contention until injuries caught up with them in March 2008.
It's also not Ted Nolan's team who had them in contention both seasons.
There is really no place to hide for Bergenheim, Nielsen, Tambellini and Comeau at this point in their career. Being here and having good games will not be enough anymore, the production also has to follow from those players that were drafted in 02,03,04.
That's not even counting on absolutely needing production from Bailey, Tavares, or Okposo at a point we are asking a great deal from them and Okposo not scoring off his natural right wing side last season.
Without any doubt Hunter and Weight have to produce offensively or both should be moved. I know Garth Snow praised Hunter recently on the NHLPA website but he has had two poor offensive years in a row despite all the other things he does and has not been the same player since 2004 with his knee on knee with Sean Brown.
Doug Weight has to score at even strength or he is not the right player for this roster.
If these players do not score it leads right back to the same trap which is counting on Richard Park to score. Park has been everything and more as an Islander but expecting him to lead the team and score on a regular basis is asking for too much.
Then you start looking around at the kids plus Tim Jackman and everyone is wondering where the next goal is coming from?
I'm not concerned with the physical department as so many are and there is always another Andrew Peters to be signed as the UFA told the Buffalo News Monday.
Between Jackman, Rechlicz, Sutton, Witt this roster has a few players who can win a fight or two.
Snow could sign anyone among a bunch of players for the fight by appointment.
Bottom line John Tavares is not skating on a line with Joel Rechlicz and will take his hits just like Crosby did not skate on a line with Eric Godard. This is all part of the process and no fight by appointment is going to fix this and there are no more Clark Gillies in this league to score thirty, fight and play on the top line.
It's also fair to lay it on the line with the defenders and the head coach.
If Andy Sutton, Freddy Meyer and maybe even Radek Martinek cannot stay healthy it's time to give the job to someone who can.
Career trends do not lie for some of these players. Brendan Witt did stay in the lineup and got his mobility back around December after his third knee injury in the calendar year.
Individually they are good defenders when healthy, we have to see some chemistry develop and with the farm system changes will be coming. Andrew MacDonald, Mark Katic and even Dustin Kohn could get a look before another veteran depth signing plus Hillen is on a one-way contract so he will beat out someone or wait for an injury with the Islanders.
Mark Streit needs a repeat season and will need to do it hopefully in a playoff race under real pressure.
A huge question remains if Scott Gordon's system works at this level.
How Witt reacted and how Gordon changed system last year was notable and begs the question if the coach is not doing what he does best what can he do because a big reason he was hired is now compromised? A lot of good AHL coaches systems and tactics simply do not work at this level. Gordon also seemed to react poorly on Danis or other players at times and his I like goalies to finish what they start comment did not match the record in Providence.
Plus if any of these coaches were Gordon's hirings the Isles website or the media did not indicate that. Snow was the only one who commented and hiring a coach-gm from another organization is never a good sign.
Hopefully Gordon had input or a part of the hiring process because year one he had someone else's staff.
Still the two-year trend goes all the way back to Al Arbour, coaches do not last three years here that's something this coach has to be thinkng about too.
You got another blog entry. I got a new flash player, sidebar backgrounds, I'm quietly getting a lot done here. I only wish I had learned these things when the blog was still going daily but I will put up a little hockey content to test the changes.
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