Not looking good but far from over...

New York Islander Fan Central | 2/03/2008 05:15:00 AM | |
Many folks forget the Isles were a team one game over five hundred a year ago on
1/31/2007 so any idea the season is over at this point and the Isles must be sellers at the trade deadline are misguided.

Bottom line we just have to see what happens on the ice next and if this club can gut out a close win and get some confidence in itself re-established.

That written the trends are not good and different from last season and that's where the club has significant differences that will likely determine what happens from here.

Greg Logan made some very good point in both Newsday articles:
Last year the Isles had five players, who scored 20 to 40 goals.
No one has reached the twenty goal mark yet for this club.
Most of the forwards are in huge slumps.
The Islanders are last in the NHL with an average of 2.36 goals per game.

Ted Nolan talked about players having confidence and having to believe they can score but the career trends of many of these players indicate they are not the kind of players who are goal-scorers or who can be relied on for big goals in critical moments.

In addition this power play has allowed ten shorthanded goals which is now tied with Carolina for worst in the league which says a lot about the players on the power play and frankly the coaching strategy behind it.

On defense I also see some significant problems with mistakes giving up the kind of chances that can kill a club playing low scoring games that even the coach admits they have to play because he does not have a high scoring club that can come back down two goals.

Worst of all last year's club had the survival skills to get a game to overtime which was reflected in it's five on five numbers. This year's team is completely the opposite at five on five with the plus/minus reflective of this.

Even this teams biggest strength which is it's penalty killing can only do so much and is allowing some goals.

So how does it turn around?
Hockey is a game of confidence and we see it all the time with players who start scoring and relax and mention the goal helped them calm down. I think a lot of players are pressing and know the pressure is on them and they are struggling. Ted Nolan is correct in that they have to get into the dirty area's of the ice, bang in some goals, win a game and see if it can snowball where more players get on the score sheet. Those crossbars against Montreal go in and we could be talking about a win on Saturday.

Same thing for the defense where Marc-Andre Bergeron said a while back he expects to sit after his next mistake before injuries made that impossible. Granted Ted Nolan has left him in and the mistakes keep coming anyway. No doubt Campoli's absence is felt on the backline but this also goes to the forwards in Mike Sillinger and Bill Guerin who were well out of position covering forwards in critical goals given up against Ottawa and Los Angeles this week.

Defense is a team concept, even with some glaring mistakes by individuals.

I'm not sure what's going to happen next. A lot of times you see a club struggle like this it becomes a free fall and frankly another week of this and the Isles will find themselves in fourteenth. When you get prospect updates at 10pm on a Saturday it's fair to speculate patience could be running out in some players.

It's also fair to write players as old as Witt, Sillinger and Guerin are having a great deal asked of them at this point in their careers as Mike Comrie is under the full pressure of having to produce as a first line player. I suspect they are a little worn down and do not have the veteran support to help them create chances.

Were about to find out the on-ice character of this group and if they really are willing to do what it takes to turn this around or perhaps it's fair to write this team collectively is simply not good enough which many suspected going into the season.

All season I have been writing things change quickly. We went from reading articles about the Isles looking to resign Vasicek, Hunter, Fedotenko, Comrie and Satan to now that could seem like a mistake.

For things to turn around things are going to have to change again. I'm not sure there is much else Ted Nolan can do with line combinations or the players he has.

Not looking good but far from over.