Signs This Could Be A Season-Ending Free Fall

New York Islander Fan Central | 11/04/2010 09:59:00 AM |

For the long-time folks who read NYIFC, I don't do the alarmist game here.

I watch games, occasionally write about what I see and look at what's working vs what is not working, and review the trends of team/individual players.

Very early they did comeback and win games they would not have come back in a year ago, I did believe it would translate to five on five play.

Recently, even when they were winning games I asked what's really different (besides pp Bailey/Comeau) than the start a year ago when they could not win early, and what happens when they do have some bad games.

We're finding out.

The signs are there right now for a season-ending free fall that make the 2008-09 injury ravaged season look tame by comparison before it fell apart when Joey MacDonald could not repeat his third NHL star of the month performance that November.

They have not scored this season at even strength, the powerplay was/is due to go into a slump. Sure if Carolina can be shutout back to back games and put up seven on the Islanders, this team can do the same starting in Ottawa tonight but there is nothing happening to indicate that it would.

The fantastic early signs of Bailey-Comeau being critical producers has stopped between injuries/line combination changes, there are very fair questions to ask of Scott Gordon on that subject.

Gordon is also falling into the Richard Park trap with Doug Weight at even strength, and sure he's in on most goals. Grabner down 5-0 off Weight's work are not going to sustain this offense or get it un-tracked at five on five.

I saw Bailey's play against Philadelphia where he was robbed, I know Weight's fore-check got the puck to him. Having written this I saw where Bailey was on left wing and my first impression was what if he was playing his natural spot at center where he did all that scoring earlier and in juniors?

Worst of all the teams edge/defensive play/blocked shots/lanes has been lost the last three of four games without Andrew MacDonald. Roloson had to be outstanding in Montreal to allow only four goals, it could have been eight or more.

The 2-1 winning goal against Montreal on Friday, Tavares and Martin did not hustle back to have their man who had all night to come in to slot and score. In Philadelphia and Carolina, we have seen players on other teams beat the defense on the walls, get behind them for easy tap-ins and to the center ice for one-timers.

Team defense includes the wingers and centers.

Doug Weight floating through middle not having Staal in the high slot for the third goal last night, Schremp getting beat at the blueline by Samanov and again to the net on Matsumoto's first goal is not acceptable, his reaction (along with Scott Gordon) said it all.

Skinner on the sixth goal is not quality coverage.

DiPietro's Fault?
His one poor goal allowed vs Philadelphia was terrible, the first and fourth goals against Carolina go entirely on his inability to handle/cover puck.

Having written this ten other goals were scored that went beyond goaltending and were about poor defensive play by the entire team. They did not lose the last two games because of Rick DiPietro, even though a few want to blame him for even being part of this team regardless how he plays.

Marty Biron was 2-11-1 last January when Roloson was around ten/eleven games over five hundred. Biron allowed soft goals last October that cost this team a lot.

Right now DiPietro is 2-3-2, they cannot afford many more poor goals or mistakes.

My preseason concern about DiPietro/Roloson splitting games and being effective still are a question here.

Bottom line:
Last year even with injuries this club had ability to stop the bleeding and win a bunch of games, even in March.

This year has a very different feel and almost the opposite with the five on five play fair and the pp terrible for long stretches.

This begs the question if you don't have even strength scoring for most of twelve games, if it's down to Mike Mottau, Mark Eaton having to play as top four defenders, with the struggles of Hillen/Gervais (+1 Wed) and a lot of forwards not paying price to win pucks in the corners or the middle of the ice, plus a goalie allowing making mistakes on a team that cannot afford a single one, where does a turnaround begin?

You have to have something that works to turn things around to get the confidence going. At even strength Parenteau, Hunter and many of these forwards don't look capable of that.

Even with a different team/coach in 07-08, the club lost seven straight, but you could see them getting close to breaking out by plays they were creating, when they finally won what they built toward produced a six game winning streak.

I wrote last week some things were due to start/stop working for this club, they are showing no sign the long overdue even strength scoring is getting close, and now the team defense is struggling.

Five straight regulation losses mean zero/ten available points. In this league playoff teams cannot allow that, earlier they were getting to overtime or winning.

They will not be winning as they did against Detroit, Vancouver, Chicago last year playing at this level five on five. Last year's team would have gotten that game in Washington to overtime, and did twice.

Again, I don't want to be an alarmist. It could turn around, but if it does not soon it could be a season-ending free-fall.

I don't like the signs/trends or what I'm seeing in these games. This is an easy team to play against in too many areas.

-Nice high stick on Martinek not called or run into DiPietro on Carolina fifth goal, by the officiating. Not an excuse, but what needed to be called.
-Jon Sim (unfortunately for Sim/great for Islander prospects) went to Bridgeport for an 11am game, scored a hat-trick, the shootout goal in a 6-5 win and did everything short of taking the 7,000+ kids out to lunch afterward.

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