As I wrote recently, New York should have been a playoff team this year and there is no getting around that.
In the end it was a mixed bag and a strange season on a lot of levels for the New York Islanders in 2009-2010, but so was the entire Eastern Conference.
If this team played out west and were seventeen points out in March no one would be taking playoffs the last few weeks or improvement beyond numbers in terms of goals scored or differential being cut, realistic contention for a playoff spot would have been gone before the new year.
In this painfully mediocre conference, with the lowest point totals to qualify since the shootout format or 02-03 Islanders, you beat the top teams or earn enough points against them plus have third best record against West you have to make the playoffs and win against the teams struggling. You survive fourteen of seventeen on the road, you have to come home in December and take advantage.
As far as the team result, some things were completely unacceptable like the special teams or third period/inconsistent scoring which are a big part of this final result.
The most dramatic number cut no one will write/know/care about is man games lost to injury dropping from 582 to around 250. If you don't think that's significant Edmonton lost around 540 games in 09-10 and we know where they finished this season, like Colorado last year who were second in man games lost to the Isles with all those second-half injuries (like 07-08 Isles in March) you can start writing that comeback story if they get some players healthy.
This was first time New York missed the playoff without leading the NHL in man games lost to injury since 2001, that also makes this different.
Bottom line, General manager Garth Snow was absolutely right a few days ago, everyone who does return has to be better, starting with how he improves his teams basic construction flaws which were obvious against so many larger, faster, more physical and better skilled clubs with more veterans.
The 2009-10 New York Islanders kept me guessing all year, when they seemed down and out they won against top clubs, when it seemed they got it together and were playing well, the scoring dried up against very beatable teams just as quickly.
What impressed me most is how they stopped the losing streaks, ran off some wins and the hard work almost every single game with so few poor efforts.
Scott Gordon was correct as well because you can take thirty five shots on goal, have another twenty blocked, miss the net on fifteen others and score one goal,
Many will only write about how poorly the team played but having written this as Doug Weight said in January, which for me was most important/memorable quote of season, you need to have players who can finish that hard work.
We all saw that kind of game with Craig Anderson on Core of Four weekend or when Pittsburgh's backup was making fifty plus saves a few years ago at the Coliseum, or Carolina's Cam Ward stopping sixty last season.
Those game changing goals did not happen when it was needed most and it proved fatal, it prevented the ability to put up those long unbeaten in regulation streaks you have to have and close out games you have a lead in where one goal kills any momentum for the opposition.
The flaws in the construction of the club in terms of size, speed, skill were painfully obvious at times. The record against in the Atlantic outside of New York absolutely is a two year trend which cannot be ignored and sure this club was not healthy, however it was less of a factor than the last two years which decimated the roster top to bottom nightly from March 2007 through September 2009.
The hard work/competitive games almost every night speaks to character of the players, the coaching staff and that does have to be another factor in who return vs who is brought here.
Next comes the part where Islander fans start doing the shopping list expecting UFA, but like a year ago that's not going to happen to a large degree at all and not because of money as many will report but job openings.
Jesse Joensuu, Matt Martin, Robin Figren with other forwards along with Andrew MacDonald, Dustin Kohn and perhaps a Calvin deHaan or Travis Hamonic are going to be the players added which is why they were signed and developed.
Rhett Rakhshani has been a top college player at Denver, Tomas Marckino is a big player and there is Kirill Petrov, Justin Dibenedetto and this funny thing happening like AHL veterans coming up and contributing or the scouting staff's ability to find a Mark Streit, Matt Moulson.
I will add a few sentences with an eye-candy grade for individual players in next entry beyond Bridgeport/Islander News updates.
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