Why New York Will Lose Next Season:

New York Islander Fan Central | 5/03/2011 01:18:00 PM |


On Sunday NYIFC wrote on Why the New York Islanders can win next season with the standard of winning at this time being a playoff spot.

Today we look at the other side and why the club will lose with that standard being not qualifying for 2011-12 NHL playoffs.

1-Pressure on Management vs. Expectations Pt II:

We can repeat this one from the reasons they can win but add the word expectations.

Make no mistake a general manager who said a year ago the expectation was to win and that everyone has to be better, who fired his choice for head coach is under pressure to win next season. It could mean he presses the wrong buttons whether it be rushing young players vs making a trade that hurts the core. There were fair question on what position Bailey and Comeau were used along with Rob Schremp that may have hurt all three players at times. Charles Wang's second general manager is approaching the same point Mike Milbury was in the late 90's when folks demanded a winning team now and results. The support for the club in the stands may well dictate what the gm does to keep his team winning next season. Whatever Charles Wang's future is owning this club he again has to prove to the fan base he will do everything possible financially (short of front-loading contracts/spending to cap like many teams cannot) to give his gm the support he will need to compete now that there is a solid base of talent here.

The pressure to win was there a year ago but injuries left few alternatives, this year should be different. Most media locally and in Canada will work the other side and do everything possible to create a negative culture in the press to drive away fans and most of the uninformed viewpoints will not care about injuries/man games lost or tell you much about current team.

2-The Even Strength Scoring Was Mostly Grabner and Moulson:

Plus/minus is sometimes misleading but last years long scoring drought that caused the club's free-fall the numbers screamed the club could not produce at even strength early beyond Matt Moulson's regular production. Graber's second-half production at even strength was a big part of turning many of those early one/goal open net regulation loss to wins or overtime points. So what happens if again Comeau, Nielsen, Parenteau and most of the other forwards cannot score at five on five early (Nielsen is not an even strength scorer), what if Okposo's second half does continues into next season or Bailey does not take a step forward in development? What if Tavares, Moulson take a step back or Grabner struggles or if Trent Hunter is healthy can he produce after three years of struggling?

These things are very realistic possibilities with no answers.

3-Core Players Not Ready For Prime Time:

You go around the Eastern Conference/NHL and you know the veteran talents or rising stars that can take a close game and produce the big play to end a losing streak or change the momentum. Philadelphia is a very streaky team, who always seem to have a Carter, Richards, Briere or Hartnell score the big goal against the Islanders and break their losing streaks. You can find similar talents on most clubs and it's usually the long-term difference between the playoff teams vs the pretenders, who lose games but can pick themselves up and go on a winning streak to offset it.

Bob Nystrom used to ask the room: " Who's going to be the Hero," as the dynasty teams played playoff overtime.

In 2011-12 who's ready to become those players in New York? Five twenty goal scores/two thirty goal players are great and a good sign it can happen, but until they can take that step and players emerge who can take over a game or put the team on their back in critical moments that decide a game it's just numbers.

Yes, this is about a goal like Matt Martin's to tie a game in Philadelphia.

That production has to go beyond 4-1-2 (last season's start) or a game when the club is double-digit points out of a playoff spot. You go around this league many of the teams have players who have learned to win.

Who's ready to become the hero's for this team in 2011-12? Has this group learned how to win?

4-No Hiding From Injuries/Past/Players Returning From Injury:

Being due for less injuries or good luck mean nothing. What can be realistically expected from Mark Streit, Trent Hunter, Mike Mottau, Mark Eaton, Andrew MacDonald, Rick DiPietro, Frans Nielsen, Kyle Okposo and others who have lingering health issues or missed a large amount of games? Can these players stand up for 82 games much less the grind of a playoff chase? Who's going to get hurt among the few players who were not hurt for extended periods?

All teams have injuries, this team has to shake problems where virtually all players suffer injury. It's not acceptable for Mike Mottau/70+ games in NJ, having an eye injury, and suddenly being out for season with a different one.

5-Does December/March Record Last Season Really Matter?

A big part of the answer to this question may well come from re-reading part 4 because most of the returning/injured players are signed and expected to be in camp.

Many were not healthy or productive in the second half of 2010-11 when the Islanders were winning more games.


6-Free Agency/Trades?


Re-read part I. The wrong free agent or trade could hurt as much as it could help.

The front-loaded contract star free agents are likely not available for this franchise or most non-corporate teams willing to take a financial loss. Reality is also many of the free agents are a risk and available because they have struggled on the teams they were playing for or have health issues.

No, you do not give out offer sheets and surrender prime draft picks to players who could be UFA in a year or two.

7-The Right Coaches Pt II:

What kind of coach will Jack Capuano be without the interim tag and the expectations high with prospects being worked in? Will the seemingly light touch he displayed be there or will we see the coach during some stretches who threatened ice time last season as he pressed his players? Can he get pp to be more consistent and balance goaltending with injury/contract issues? Will the young core improve and what veterans can he lean on as a buffer to the players?

Steve Stirling posted a 38-29-11, ninety one point playoff season out of an injured club with Czerkawski-Kvasha-Weinhandl in the second half of 03-04 as his first line. Why should any less be expected of Capuano, even without Yashin, Peca or Mark Parrish in 2011-12?

Conclusion:
Some things are going to work out, others will not. The disparity will answer our questions from both entries on a winning season vs a losing one in 2011-12.

It usually comes out somewhere in the middle meaning anywhere between 1-15.

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