New York Islander Fan Central | 12/22/2009 10:50:00 AM |
Simply put it's almost over for the 2009-10 New York Islanders.

They returned home after surviving fourteen out of seventeen on the road in mediocre shape (but in playoff contention) with a lot of beatable, struggling clubs on the schedule. The scoring they did earlier should have given them the collective confidence to produce goals and some wins or a unbeaten in regulation streak.

The hard work has been there, it has not happened.

Back on December 17th I did a twitter update and wrote my concerns about the goals per game and how the Isles went from a club that scored 3-4-5-3-0-1-6-4-4-4-4 from 10/28-11/16 which was excellent to now a point where they have scored 2-1-4-1-3-1-4-0-2-2-3-1-2-2-0-2 in all the games since which is a non-stater most nights to get many games to overtime much less sustain a winning streak.

In short that is twelve out of sixteen games with two or less goals.

Combine that with a club that has no back to back wins since early November and we find the New York Islanders six points out of a playoff spot (technically seven counting wins as a tie-breaker) and five teams separating them from the 8th seed on this day.

Not happy writing it, I hope I'm wrong but unless this team very quickly solves it's scoring and special teams problems the competitive part of the 2009-10 season will be over in a very short time.

I have written several times about the playoff trends, four games under five hundred and no ability to put together back to back wins is not getting this team anywhere near the twelve games over they likely will need to qualify.

Has the effort been there? I believe so given the shots on goal and quality chances aside from Florida game. They have run into some hot goaltending but what's happened recently goes beyond that.

Do I blame the kids? No, not at all. Okposo, Tavares and Bailey are too young to be expected to carry the scoring and it was going to be interesting to see what happened if they went into a collective slump.

I have to blame the coach for Comeau, Nielsen, Tambellini, Gervais and Bergenheim, these were the players (with the other veterans) who were at the point in their careers where they needed to produce and failed and in most cases regressed or were simply not used. Lineup decisions and where they have been played in some cases have been a part of the lack of scoring. In some cases also the players simply have not produced despite being given chances at their natural position like Bergenheim.

Their futures one way or another have to be in question at least as long as this coach has tenure and likely regardless. As long as the club does work hard in games I do not see the coach as being on shaky ground to a point the owner will be asked to absorb another coaches salary that runs another year.

Do I blame the coach for Okposo not producing with Nielsen? No, because he is too young and should be productive with anyone and the chances/assists have been there.

Other veterans?

I think Sim, Park should be better on offense given their career trends. A great half season out of Matt Moulson speaks for itself as does what Hunter has given them so far in Scott Gordon's favor. Fair or not Park, Thompson and some other vets are not exactly getting it done when shorthanded even though it's about a collective unit. The chances have been there from them for the minutes given at even strength but it does not lead to enough goals.

Jack Hillen has played very well, so had Andy MacDonald. Cannot see many nights Witt or Meyer cost them games but when they are beaten it's not pretty and the same goes for Bruno Gervais who clearly is playing for his future now given the defenders in the teams system getting closer. Sutton has been excellent. Streit looks tired from minutes, other teams seem to key on him and his production is down.

Excuse for losing, must have a big name on defense or a top two? No, look at Devils and other teams with no-names getting the job done and winning. To be fair this team is in almost every game if not outworking the other club so that is a credit to the collective defense and their ability to move the puck.

Still on this day they are at twenty seventh in goals against.

Cannot put it on Roloson or Biron, neither have had scoring support while the later has not gotten a run of games. Most of the goals scored go beyond goaltending, the kind Tampa scored last night that the Isles offense cannot produce.

That is one of the big problems.

What's Next?

Unless the trends dramatically and unexpectedly turn quick, this team finds a way to win eight out of ten games and score as they did earlier (or Roloson-Biron turn into DiPietro in 2008) we can basically forget 2009-10. The young players can get hot and go on a run as they did, but it does seem like they are wearing down or simply are frustrated from not being able to finish and pressing a great deal.

Fact is given how they have out shot and outworked many teams, it's fair to suggest we could see a letdown in that department which could lead to a free fall.

What do you do with Doug Weight and Tim Jackman in a few weeks? Neither are going to score much. Do you move Comeau or Schremp back to the bench or demote Joensuu to give them a roster spot? Does that help the club going into next year if the standings scream no playoffs?

Besides, how long can Weight stay healthy?

Bottom line:

This is not rocket science, the goals scored per game are the bottom line. It is not just a slump or a slight tailspin anymore. No team can sustain any kind of winning for long without offensive support. What happened earlier looked like a team built to last that was competing or beating Washington, Buffalo, Pittsburgh and scoring with them.

Those trends suggested they should have been able to sustain it against any other club.

It did not happen and not for the injury reasons last year's club went into a freefall, the defense has managed to stay somewhat healthy.

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