Was this really a season of improvement and something built to last that will carry over into next season and beyond for the New York Islanders?
If you want to make that discussion based on standings or goal differential while bringing John Tavares, Matt Moluson to the NHL and giving/expanding Josh Bailey, Kyle Okposo roles along with Andrew MacDonald becoming a twenty five plus minute defender and playing outstanding hockey the answer would be yes.
For myself, it's far too early to tell and more changes will be coming this summer as Matt Martin, Jesse Joensuu, Dustin Kohn and likely others will push for the few spots available on this roster despite some looking at 7/1 and expecting front loaded contracts to start flying.
Having written that New York dropped their man games lost to injury by about three hundred fifty from a year ago and still were far from a healthy team going through twelve defenders between trades and demotions. Add to this the special teams/third period numbers in the painfully mediocre Eastern Conference where the bottom three seeds really have no business even in the playoffs and that would include the Isles if they had qualified despite a solid finish.
Keep in mind if the Islanders played out West and the usual 95 point playoff cut were the standard this season would have been over before the Olympic break with them close to twenty points out of eighth.
Would anyone be taking progress?
You beat the top teams, have a strong record against a very good western conference you should be a playoff team (previous entry) given this will be the worst the conference has been since 02-03 when an 83 pt New York team that was only a game over five hundred qualified for the 8th seed.
In enough of these blog entries Bergenheim, Nielsen and Tambellini were discussed at length with Blake Comeau, we can look at Comeau's recent numbers and call it progress and his final goal was a very nice play along with some others, but most of his goals were just brutal play by the opposing netminder.
I hope that did not come off as harsh because that's not my intention but bottom line was as of February 10th Comeau had six goals, about eight assist and was sitting so Trevor Gillies could play three minutes against Philadelphia. This is not a prospect in his rookie season but a player drafted in 2004 and the same can be written about Bergenheim's season despite what happened in his last game. Nielsen's defensive game is fine, his offense game has a way to go.
This is also not a question of Comeau's work habits because he does work hard in games and deserves credit for putting himself in position to score and set up goals along with everyone.
But is this real progress?
To me progress built to last goes beyond a painfully mediocre conference and a few solid weeks against teams having some poor games combined with some good work by the Islanders as well. I'm hoping as much as anyone it does carry over for Comeau statistically and the other players because one thing that can be written is this group works very hard with so few poor nights.
For me that's been the one thing I think is built to last moving forward we can take out of this season.
Perhaps a state of the Islander blog entry or two after the season is wrapped at NYIFC. I will twitter through Bridgeport playoffs if they qualify.
It's getting late for Bridgeport facing must win games to qualify and with more injuries that means leading scorer Greg Mauldin for the Sound Tigers was recalled and may not be there for those games which is a tough call but a well-earned reward.
Hopefully that means Bailey, MacDonald, Kohn and others have a place to perform come playoff time.
Every playoff home game needs to be at Harbor Yard in front of Sound Tiger season ticket holders.
The only reason the New York Islanders were a lottery team for two years was because of the 582-402 league leading man games lost and the same thing held true with Edmonton this year. I will be thrilled to see New York out of the lottery if standings hold because it's not what our teams great tradition and history are about.
For myself, no team should be allowed in more than two lottery's in a row. If you finish in the bottom a third straight time you should be moved back to 10-16 with everyone else moving up a spot. Four years in a row you move to bottom ten in first round and five years in a row you automatically are seeded 30th. Any team trading for your pick early takes same burden.
Sure would provide incentive for general managers to improve.
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