New York Should Have Made Playoffs

New York Islander Fan Central | 3/12/2010 08:39:00 AM | Comment Here
We can now write the epitaph of the 2009-10 New York Islanders season because from here on it is an extended exhibition schedule even if Jackman, Weight, Sim, Park play and Jeff Tambellini, Matt Martin, Jesse Joensuu with others sit in the stands or compete for a playoff spot in Bridgeport.

Last year's exhibition season lasted about fifty games, this year it will go about fifteen but it never should have come to this.

I know a lot of New York Islander fans are caught up in that rebuilding word that Garth Snow does not like to use here but the bottom line is this team should have made the playoffs or been there to the final days of the regular season after how well they played to put themselves in a playoff spot.

For a short time this team was making a run at sixth place, ahead of Philadelphia, Ottawa and Boston, it was not last year with 582 man games lost to injury or the previous one with 402 that both led the NHL.

If the team fell off the playoff map in December when they were four under with a very tough schedule ahead that would have been understandable however the Islanders did rally, proved they can win against the top clubs and went all the way up to three games over, the upcoming schedule from there had a lot of teams they should have gotten points from.

It did not happen for a lot of reasons that go beyond Tavares, Okposo and Bailey not producing enough but of course that is a part of it. Given what an AHL player in Matt Moulson gave them this should have been a playoff team.

The scoring most nights dried up and this team when they did score (Atlanta/Pittsburgh) allowed too many goals on poor changes/transition where tough questions need to be asked. The special teams struggled all season, the five on five play/third period scoring was not there when they needed it most and frankly a lot of veterans failed to produce any big goals with Bergenheim, Comeau, Nielsen not giving them any production or inconsistent scoring at best by their own play or how coach has used them.

No one can call Sean Bergenheim, Blake Comeau or Jeff Tambellini's season progress and despite Comeau's six goals recently the rest of his season looked a lot like his first year.

This was not a good year for Trent Hunter, Richard Park, Jon Sim, Doug Weight, Tim Jackman or Nate Thompson when he was here. Trevor Gillies is not going to give this club offense when he dresses.

Losing thirteen out of sixteen games or whatever is it now and falling out of any realistic contention frankly is not acceptable because this conference is so painfully mediocre from top to bottom there is no game the New York Islanders could not win on a given night.

I do believe the hard work most games have been there, this team has had few poor efforts where they were blown out of games, they just did not have enough clutch scoring or big stops on defense with the goaltending allowing some goals you cannot give up combined with the special teams doing a poor job.

I have written a lot of entries on club's scoring this year but as much as they have struggled and are in the bottom mix, there are teams firmly in a playoff spot that are within a few goals of the Islanders.

This is not a club 30th in offense that are forty goals or more behind the 29th place team.

I know now the injuries are piling up again big-time between Schremp, Hunter, MacDonald, DiPietro and no doubt a few players have skated with injuries but you look at the Ottawa game before the Olympic break as one of many where a few points were there for this team and they failed to get them.

This is where this season and playoff spot were lost and where the questions moving forward should come from because they should have outright won a spot or been there to the final days.

Next Fifteen:

As for the final fifteen games it's asking a lot for this group to win consistently with inexperience/size defense. Scott Gordon's post game after Boston game said it all on backline issues with Mark Streit over thirty minutes against Blues.

Rick DiPietro:

If his knee problems continue to keep him off the ice going into next season some serious questions have to be asked about his career. Garth Snow sounded like a man who is going to keep Dwayne Roloson for insurance regardless.

Garth Snow:
If you go by General Manager's Garth Snow's interview on Thursday he talked a lot but did not say much which is fine because most general managers do not talk often at all. Actions will define what he really thinks of his players moving forward but he did give an endorsement of his head coach which was the most notable moment.

I have no problem with his suggestion at the general managers meeting to have a play in tournament for the final spot. I do think it devalues the regular season, this has been used in the AHL and someone in other sports decided on wild cards for baseball and football in the past, but it's not going to happen. .

What's Next at NYIFC?
We keep doing twitter updates for the rest of the season with a mix of articles/information and see what Bridgeport does. I don't think a game or recap with articles/comments has been missed this season even in twitter format. I know it's not our old format of several blog entries daily here but more was written here than I expected to do. Is there any difference between ten twitter updates vs two blog entries with links?

Beyond that I don't know what I intend to do with NYIFC but there will be no announcements or entries about it regardless of what's decided.

My thanks as always to everyone for their kind support.

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Not a great deadline for Garth Snow or New York

New York Islander Fan Central | 3/03/2010 06:40:00 PM | Comment Here
Almost feels like the beginning of the season all over again.

DiPietro's status in question, depth issues on the backline.

Of course with nineteen games left it's not the beginning, New York remains barely on the outer fringes of a playoff race. (see previous entries for details)

The deadline has now passed and it was not general manager Garth Snow's finest day but if you were expecting first rounders and big names for Dwayne Roloson you should have checked the market because teams were not paying that price in Philadelphia, Chicago or Washington for goaltending.

No doubt the same teams that were not lining up to pay Martin Biron last July were in no rush to take his remaining contract given his season to date either.

Having written this circumstances were tough and beyond the general manangers control in some cases. Today was a time most teams were playing conservative in the front-loaded contract, post-lockout capped NHL and as usual the injury problems have hit this team for two plus years became a big factor.

This was a very mild deadline with the major moves coming before the Olympic break.

The general manager had no idea Andrew MacDonald would break his foot the game after dealing Andy Sutton but now a minor league player in Dylan Reese comes up to attempt to do the impossible and replace Andrew MacDonald's twenty five plus steady minutes on a day Snow could have tried to add someone with an NHL background today and where the toughest questions for him need to be asked.

Even Aaron Johnson has more NHL background than Dylan Reese and was traded for today with Martin Skoula going from Pens to Leafs to New Jersey.

It also says something Garth Snow (for now) did not try yet to recall Witt and risk losing him to re-entry waivers. That defensive depth chart is very thin right now.

As much as I wanted to see Doug Weight go to a team in a playoff spot with perhaps Richard Park this team is still in some realistic contention and the return for them at best would have been low round picks or conditional compensation.

If you expected Snow to do better there you have not been paying attention to the market.

The goaltending front is back to square one and even tougher because we don't know where things go from here with Rick DiPietro. If he returns it's three goalies for two spots where in reality for games to matter you need one hot goalie stealing points and one occasional backup.

Not three players.

Dwayne Roloson enters this summer signed for next season.

Up front, I guess a left wing comes up to replace a right wing in Hunter or Bergenheim leaves the bench for now.

What's next is New York plays a very different Atlanta team but one that added Chris Chelios (via AHL pending waivers) plus a few players.

Maybe a few players get hot like Blake Comeau has, many are overdue for a hot streak. Garth Snow stood by his players or frankly the market was not worth moving them for the return which is really the bottom line w/new injuries for this day.

Note-ALL NYIFC Trade deadline feeds, links and sections have been removed. Prospect blog was updated to include all Bridgeport transactions.

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Sell Mode & Playoff Contention For New York?

New York Islander Fan Central | 2/15/2010 03:19:00 AM | Comment Here
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.

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.


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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