Sell Mode & Playoff Contention For New York?

New York Islander Fan Central | 2/15/2010 03:19:00 AM | Be the first to comment!
Can you go into sell mode and still win enough games to make a playoff run?

It is possible but highly unlikely in terms of the 2009-10 New York Islanders.

This team most nights has worked very hard which is a credit to the character of the players, Scott Gordon and his coaching staff but having written this it's time for the tough questions.


Should General Manager Garth Snow Be In Sell Mode?

Absolutely. Standings and team numbers at the bottom in virtually every area simply do not lie that this group as it currently stands is not deep enough to win consistently and have too many basic flaws as constructed in terms of size, speed, physical/fighting elements and most of all players with finishing skills.

Outside of Tavares, Okposo, Bailey, MacDonald there is not a player on this roster Garth Snow should not consider moving if the right offer came along when the trade freeze ends. Mark Streit even enters this discussion if the return brings a talent that upgrades the roster significantly.

I detailed my thoughts on the failed prospect movement in a recent entry so no point being repetitive.

The Playoff Race:
Most years a team this far below five hundred simply are not in any kind of realistic contention. It's taken a painfully weak Eastern Conference for the New York Islanders to even barely remain in the conversation and as hard as they worked to gain an actual spot earlier, that's how quickly they lost it against bubble teams in the same spot or behind them at the time.

Having written this the window is starting to get very narrow with the sixth and seventh place teams now seven or more points ahead with two games in hand.

You know the math and the ugly numbers because I have written it enough times in these blog entries. New York in it's remaining twenty games would now need to go 18-1-1 to reach the usual eighth seed cut off of ninety five points.

Hoping for an eighth seed cut off at ninety points which is very low? Ok.
15-3-2

Can it happen?
Anything can happen.

Will it happen?
Highly unlikely.


Reasons Why This Cannot Happen:

Given the teams rank in goals scored, five on five, special teams where does this kind of dramatic turnaround begin with a roster that has rookie Matt Martin on the first line one game, Blake Comeau the next and then Trevor Gillies dressing for Blake Comeau to play three minutes?

Are Sean Bergenheim or Frans Nielsen ready to start finishing, and can the veterans like Park and Weight, who had huge games against struggling Tampa begin to do this on a nightly basis?

Expecting Trent Hunter to break out of his latest long slump, in it's third year or Jon Sim to start scoring, as he did in Atlanta when he had back to back seventeen goal seasons? Is Rob Schremp ready to make a giant step forward in his early development, and score a bunch of goal to go with some excellent playing making ability?

John Tavares is getting closer to some goals, but asking for him to produce big numbers on a sustained basis with Bailey or Okposo is obviously too much at this very early point in their careers.

Steven Stamkos veteran supporting cast in Tampa can score and are productive/established first line talents, the New York Islander veteran supporting cast cannot produce to that level and are not first line talents.

The Tough Calls At The Deadline?
Andy Sutton: Despite the best hockey of his career and the physical element he brings, age and injury history are simply too much to ignore. If you want proof recall how he got hurt earlier this year.

Trent Hunter: Not discussed in media but it's three years of long slumps at key moments on a team that needed him as a veteran in his prime to produce despite all the other things he does very well. It's fair to write the player we saw before Sean Brown's 2004 knee on knee with that extra step is not returning.

Dwayne Roloson: He's demonstrated he can perform at a high level when he's used as a number one goaltender, he has failed to demonstrate this sharing the net and we have no idea what he would do in an extended backup role.

Bruno Gervais: Is getting a full chance and despite a lot of uneven play has performed better lately. Having written this deHaan, Haronic, Katic, Kohn, Hillen and all the other defensive prospects in the system are getting closer and a mix of veterans and young players are necessary.


Long-shots?

Rick DiPietro: I don't care about the contract which is still a bargain but maybe he needs a fresh start. If the return is equal to his franchise potential when fully healthy, it's something to be considered. Garth Snow did not use all those high picks on goaltenders simply for insurance.

Mark Streit: How do you not listen if the return brings a franchise talent who can match his contribution years before free agency.

Everyone else in the conversation should be moved and it's not even a close call between Weight, Jackman, Park, Meyer, Martinek and Sim because most will be gone regardless at the end of this season if some do not retire. Great character players who give all they have but cannot produce enough goals.

If the return and potential are equal and improve the dynamic you have to take a chance on moving Bergenheim, Nielsen, Comeau, Tambellini (see earlier entry) this is also why Jesse Joensuu, Matt Martin, Robin Figren and many others were signed.

Yes, if Petteri Nokelainen can be on his third team Frans Nielsen can be traded despite his defensive ability.

No folks, this is not the Florida Panthers who have not seen a playoff in a decade who lost most of their stars to UFA and are promising more changes. The New York Islanders made the post-season every year they did not lead the league in injuries, if they fail to make the post season it will be the first time it was not entirely about injuries.

That makes this time different.

What Will Happen?
I do not know but I expect Garth Snow to stick to his plan, trade a few veterans to create openings for next year and hold onto all of his youth because most of them are not heading to UFA.

I'm not expecting much to happen as many trade deadlines are anti-climatic for teams that should be in sell mode. Teams in buy-mode do not trade away productive players with long term contracts which is the return Snow will want because rentals heading to UFA solve nothing.


Scott Gordon:

I have no idea what the general manager thinks of his first coaching hire moving forward as he enters the final year of his contract, however what is decided here will indirectly speak to the general managers viewpoint on his coaches performances and whether he agrees with him on some players.

Like most coaches some lineup decisions have been questionable and it's fair to ask are the young players improving or failing in part due to Scott Gordon's lineup decisions or simply does the problem goes beyond coaching?

This is where we find out if the longest tenured coach in the Atlantic does work well with his general manager, or if the current record of Al Arbour being the last coach to work a third straight year is about to be broken or not.

Beyond that we will have our answers between the time the trade freeze ends with the March 3rd deadline.


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REGARDING NEW YORK & THE PLAYOFFS

New York Islander Fan Central | 2/08/2010 07:27:00 PM | Be the first to comment!
What can be written now I have not been writing here in these infrequent updates?

I suppose the New York Islanders will go win ten in a row scoring four goals a game, let's hope so.

We knew this was a team with flaws in terms of size or physical play or veteran players who could finish. We also knew the special teams numbers and five on five play were at the bottom before, during and after the winning streak.

Those were terrible signs moving forward,

I felt the winning streak would help turn those numbers as the team got more confident in themselves, it did not happen nor has a fourth line with Doug Weight and Richard Park produced any significant offense however no combination has.

You have to be able to do one thing well to build off of to get out of a losing streak whether it be a hot goaltender, powerplay or penalty killing.

None of the above has happened whether it be Bryce Salvador's goal in the second Devil game or the St Louis goal against Tampa. Powerplay has been an outright disaster.

Doug Weight said something just as the losing streak started that was spot on, he said (not exact quote) you can throw pucks on goal and get bounces but he added you have to have players who can finish.

We all now know the Islanders have given back all the ground they gained and more with their recent losing streak and again sit at four games under break even. It's very disappointing they beat a lot of teams you would not expect them to beat and then lose to all the bubble teams.

The good news is the hard work has been there. The shots taken per game, the opposition blocks and shots missed by the Islanders do not reflect a club being out shot by huge numbers being pinned in their own end of the ice.

Scott Gordon is repeating himself a lot after games as well. His players have worked hard, he cannot be over critical when they do that.

It can turn around, pucks can start going in, the difference is spotting Roloson is working as poorly it did in October when this was done with Biron, both goaltenders now with Rick DiPietro are letting in that one bad goal a team scoring a goal or two per game cannot allow.

Moving forward (as in six days of games) unless the team strings together some wins immediately they will have to be sellers at the deadline with some very tough choice on some prospects and veterans.


Brendan Witt:

I'm disappointed Brendan Witt is in Bridgeport but his knee injuries have been frequent and it has effected his game. Witt had at least three knee injuries over the last two years and played through it as long as he could and you could see his game pick up in December 2008 when he finally got back some mobility. I will not knock Witt because he gives all he has to give over sixty minutes.

As always, Witt was first class and his usual positive self in Monday night's interview with Michael Fornabaio of the Ct Post.


Tambellini/Comeau:

I'm very disappointed in how Jeff Tambellini has been used and that Blake Comeau plays right wing (unless Trevor Gillies dresses for three minutes) Matt Moulson as a left wing is part of a reason for it. Scott Gordon cannot create five left wing spots and some of this goes beyond him to his players also.

You can read my previous entry on failure of prospects for all the repeat comments.

Rick DiPietro:
Some excellent interviews where he has opened up. His bad goals in some games have been a big problem but he apparently is healthy and should only get better. He beat
Miller and Martin Brodeur within a few days.

Ilya Kovalchuk:
Very disappointed he is no longer with the Thrashers and terrible for the Atlanta hockey market and the league in general. I would not be happy even if Garth Snow got him for our team at a similar cost.

I'm a huge fan of players staying with the team that drafted them. I suspect Thrasher ownership could not give him his money front loaded which is why a deal could not get done and what no one will talk about if he does sign a front-loaded deal with a corporate team willing to give him thirty or forty million over the first three years and lose money.

I will hold out hope the Thrashers will be offering him a contract come July.

What's Next for the Islanders?
They go play the Predators at home, travel to Pittsburgh, finally two games before the break which includes trade freeze. They need a 4-0 stretch here or the playoff gap grows to seven-eight point range with six teams blocking them.

In short playoff contention becomes unrealistic.


Finally:

NYIFC will be taking a full vacation during the winter Olympics rooting for Mark Streit but not covering games, that includes all Bridgeport games which are available here and on the prospect blog.

My Thanks as always to all our readers of NYIFC and our twitter entries.

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Chris Botta's Point Blank Out at NYIFC

New York Islander Fan Central | 2/08/2010 04:07:00 PM | Be the first to comment!
Everyone has a choice to make and I have made mine to no longer carry or discuss Chris Botta's Point Blank at NYIFC nor will our twitter feed note his contribution.

Bottom line Mr Botta should write what he wants. I am not into the sensationalism game or what can be done to create buzz or page views and frankly it's not my business.

If Mr Botta has issues with the Islanders that is also not for me to speculate on.

All I do know is Mr Botta's message this season has rarely been about our fans getting to know our players or provide game-team information (his efforts for Pat Lafontaine, Okposo/MacDonald interviews the rare exception) nor does he seem to respect our teams right to hold information as other teams do whether it be league policy on injuries, the LightHouse and he seems to contradict himself from other entries far too often.

Again, that is his choice and he's entitled to write whatever he wants.

In the past I would point out what I felt were mistakes on his part like claiming x Lighthouse gathering was the biggest day in nine years or telling us to ignore x writing ripping on our team, then he would go at another writer himself for something he considered unfair.

Could my viewpoints here be wrong? Absolutely, however it's how I see things and it's something I can no longer ignore or subject NYIFC readers to.

Having written this the New York Islanders are not a circus nor can I continue to endorse a message on my sidebars that I feel operates under that premise. It's not what our proud team is about or what writing about it should represent.

I wish Mr Botta the best and hope for his readers he get's back to what made his blog special, less was always so much more as was his wonderful efforts for Brandon Sugden. Mr Botta never needed to become Larry Brooks because his message was always superior to Mr Brooks sensationalism based journalism.

As for NYIFC readers (mostly via twitter) when the puck drops we will know who dresses and it's very easy to figure out who has been recalled or demoted, when trades or waivers happen as always my policy is dead-last and a hundred precent correct. We can live with NHL.com features on our players which have been very good and not packed with fluff like we saw on Tavares scoring struggles.

This is my choice for NYIFC.


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NEW YORK YOUTH MOVEMENT A FAILURE

New York Islander Fan Central | 2/01/2010 08:22:00 AM | Be the first to comment!
The verdict is in and it's not good.

No folks, I'm not writing about the youth movement of John Tavares, Kyle Okposo, Josh Bailey or even UFA signing Jack Hillen & Andrew MacDonald, we have more than a few years left on that subject.

I'm talking about the youth movement starting with 2002 first rounder Sean Bergenehim, followed by Frans Nielsen, Blake Comeau, Jeff Tambellini via trade and Bruno Gervais.

It's time to point fingers and ask tough questions.

NEW YORK NEEDS 41 OF 62 POINTS

New York Islander Fan Central | 1/22/2010 08:34:00 AM | Be the first to comment!
10-3-1, that's what it took to even bother writing this post for a club that was four games below five hundred.

I did not see it coming (much less dominating games) considering the lack of scoring combined with not being able to string together any back to back wins for well over a month. You factor in the schedule they had to face plus where Isles are in so many league stats as a team there was nothing to build off of.

But here we are and every fan of this team should be thrilled.

I have no idea what happens from here but for now we keep doing the math and hope the balanced scoring, strong defensive play (this is with Andrew MacDonald and Jack Hillen doing a fantastic job among others) plus hot goaltending continues as DiPietro gets out of training camp mode. Things are going to change with the standings daily a lot so best thing to do is look at big picture as to what the New York Islanders have to do.

Thirty one games left, sixty two available points. New York has fifty four points.

Eleven games until the Olympic break/NHL trade deadline.

From where I see things it's going to take ninety five points which means from this point forward Isles need forty one of sixty two available points to reach ninety five.

Or some combination of 20-10-1.

Needless to write a lot of work ahead and no hiding from finally beating the Flyers and other clubs in this division. No such thing as an easy game for any team in this league. Carolina/Toronto can jump up and beat any club on a given night that is not working hard.

Isles can play with and secure points against top level clubs, they have to do it against everyone else.

I expect the scoring to dry up as it did earlier with different players going hot and cold but they seem to have four lines capable of finishing, they do not have the luxury of an enforcer or even dressing one if they had such a player.

As I wrote last time, look at it in three game segments, six points are a huge swing now. To go beyond that or declare the Isles will be there come the break is jumping way too far ahead.

But at this time, enjoy because this team is absolutely in contention and they have earned their spot.

Note:
Keeping with policy of very limited blog entries but twitter box providing so many updates it's almost as old format used to be with a lot written daily and links to several articles. I also finally advertised NYIFC sites on twitter background page.

I have also reopened the comments section here after closing it for several months. I prefer comments via e-mail.

I have also been working to resolve problems for those with internet explorer 8.

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