It was not all about the injuries

New York Islander Fan Central | 3/30/2008 09:28:00 PM | | |
Point Blank: Mr Botta had a blog this afternoon and wrote he felt the right moves would be made moving forward and more players would be added to Rick DiPietro and Kyle Okposo.

He also wrote Garth Snow or Ted Nolan would never use injuries as an excuse but pointed out the huge list of players injured and wondered how any team could stay in contention under those circumstances?

NYI Fan Central Comments:
On the surface Mr Botta is correct and you do have to look at the injuries as a reason for the club failing which began all the way back with Jon Sim and his production which is a very big deal on a team like this but the cold reality is this was a very flawed team on several levels since day one and it cannot all be chalked up to man games lost which will go over four hundred when it's all done.

We can say injuries finally did them in but a team that scored two goals or less fourteen games in a row in November and December when it was mostly healthy should have fallen off the playoff map back then. Around mid-December the New York Islanders had a grand total of eleven first period goals for the season. It had a powerplay that was terrible for over five months that seemed to allow more goals then they can score too many nights and the worst I can ever recall in all my years as a fan.

The goal-less streaks by the veterans counted on to produce for the most part lasted from beginning to end.

I never went into games wondering would an Islander powerplay give the opposition momentum in all my years as a fan. This year it seemed a matter of when, not if before they would make a mistake. Everyone was part of the blame from Guerin's cross ice pass in Montreal to Bergeron, Berard and Satan turnovers. It was a team effort here led by the veterans and it had little to do with injuries.

This was the lowest scoring Islander team in decades for a while and one of the lowest scoring clubs in the league from beginning to end. It killed penalties very well and cut it's powerplay to penalty ratio but little else improved besides what the kids provided.

Worst of all the Islanders ability to play five on five was gone from a year ago with most of the roster deep in negative plus/minus ratings which is why they could not get games to overtime.

The veterans did not produce with any consistency with Guerin struggling badly into December, Satan having a second poor season in a row and you can go down the line with who was counted on for offense between Sillinger, Hunter and Fedotenko who faded after a strong start. Mike Comrie at best was average for the talent around him.

I also have no doubt some players were hurt but hung in as long as they could led by Satan who was supposed to be out eight weeks but missed one game. Having written that Satan's been struggling for two seasons plus, I cannot tell if it's all about injuries.

Part of the reality here is to write what everyone knows. Richard Park gives all he has to every game but he cannot score with the consistency required for the minutes and role he was given, same for Andy Hilbert. Josef Vasicek for a player who had six goals a year ago gave all he had but is not a player who can produce enough to be a second line center, not on a club with so many other players in offense roles with no scoring resume.

Then came the January losing streak of seven games in a row where the club dropped out of it's playoff spot, never recovered and the injuries finally started mounting, despite the character from the players and their replacements to grind out a six game winning streak, they never got all the way back to being in the top eight.

The ability from a year ago to manufacture enough goals to send games to overtime in seventeen of twenty games after they were a game over five hundred at the end of January 2007 was gone from day one, replaced by a lot of regulation losses where the veterans did not seem to work as hard as they could many games. Last night I pointed out that was the second home Coliseum shootout all season and the first of any kind in close to a month, survival skills to grind games out to overtime was missing all year.

I'll never forget the game before the all-star break against Boston. Ted Nolan afterward talked of his team looking forward to getting away while Marc Savard said how desperately they wanted to win that game after coming off a bad loss. We saw a lot of bad losses where this team could not score or generate much of anything like against Anaheim or Los Angeles.

To me games like that defined the Islander season a lot more than the injuries which have to be talked about but cannot be used as the over-riding factor for the club's failure this season.

It also cannot be ignored how many of these kids have outworked the veterans for months, the coach has said it several occasions.

Also moving forward the cold reality is players like Brendan Witt, Andy Sutton are going to miss a lot of games with injuries because that is their career resume. Bill Guerin is not getting younger and neither is Mike Sillinger. Mike Comrie's resume has a lot of injuries. For Bryan Berard to hold up enough to complete a season and play as much as he has in the second half had to be considered unexpected at this point in his career.

Point Blank: Mr Botta did a second blog on this because he felt some flame throwing was going on about his earlier blog.

In it he includes the disclaimer his blog was not a commentary on the woes of the power play or the struggle to score goals and with the knowledge Ted Nolan gets as much out of his players as any coach in the league if everyone (including Jon Sim) were healthy do you really think the Islanders would be in the playoff hunt this week?

NYI Fan Central Comments:
I hope Mr Botta knows and understands this blog does not engage if flame throwing but only asks the questions from all angles and is critical when something deserves criticism. Of course when he reaches out some will flame him regardless which to me only hurts what I feel are good intentions and giving his thoughts like any of us.

He is not required to blog and share his thoughts with anyone, instead he goes out of his way to talk hockey like one of the fans.

I again reiterate as above on the surface Mr Botta is correct that the injuries were a big issue but it cannot be ignored this club had major issues in other key area's that were even bigger factors that I wrote about in detail.

To me everything has to be taken into account.

I have to admit he asks a fair question and a good one. Do I think if everyone were healthy would the Isles be in a playoff hunt this week? I do not know for sure what Jon Sim would have done here but I can speculate like everyone else his production would be down from where it was in Atlanta like everyone else.

Having written that I could be wrong there too, Sim could have had a career year with his quickness and skill that carried the club and got more out of other players he had seventeen goals on a third line in Atlanta.

To be fair I can also write no team goes eight two games without some significant injuries.

To answer Mr Botta's question the Islanders even with the injuries and losing seven in a row hung around until the final two weeks of the season, so sure I think if they were healthy they would be in contention now if everyone was healthy because it's obvious even now there is no team in this division the Islanders cannot win against on any given night.

In March they beat the Devils, Penguins, Rangers and were ahead against Philadelphia all night before losing a shootout.

Still this was a flawed team on a lot of levels for six months, but what team is not?

A good question for Mr Botta to ask is how come Howie Rose on the telecast Saturday made it seem like it was almost a waste of time for the Islanders to finish eighth again, lose in the opening round and just do a rebuilding around the young players?

Anyone think Mr Rose will be saying that about the Rangers if they are fighting for eighth come Friday?