Winning Ugly Not A Long Term Strategy For New York

New York Islander Fan Central | 2/19/2012 10:16:00 AM |

No one's complaining about a win, by the end of the season few remember anything but the final standings.

Over eighty two games a few wins are very ugly as was the game against Carolina.

It also has to be written the New York Islanders should be a tired hockey team based on schedule alone, add to that a lot of younger players, too many unproductive older players is a tough mix when the scoring is not evenly distributed, plus your defense gives you nothing in terms of goals at even strength.  

Anyone following closely would have to know Tavares was due to hit a wall and did, he looked exhausted/frustrated against the Blues and was hardly smiling when Spacek went to sleep and he beat Ward, who was also slow to react.

Having written that, a tired Carolina team on their own winning streak had the Isles scrambling for a good part of the game, and did everything but tie the game in the closing seconds.

Cam Ward was injured and did not return for the third period, the Canes also seemed very willing to trade chances.

Bottom line the scoring is mostly about one line, the defense is not going to generate goals,  the players not producing all season are highly unlikely to start doing so now as they eat minutes and produce at best an even shift. 

Built To Last?
Statistically things are all over the map in that department so it's not a reliable barometer. 

Of course you can write a year ago this was a team buried below five hundred, now it's come back from five and six under to reach break even, it's also been a healthier group.

However that's also misleading. 

Good special teams vs team scoring dramatically down, vs great blocked shots totals (a reflection of pressure against/slow defense) with very poor team scoring from it's defense.

Last year's team was a high scoring club for most of the second half. There is no Blake Comeau getting hot or Micheal Grabner on a thirty goal clip this time. Nielsen's picked it up a bit, however that's not reliable based on his history.

It's not happening for Okposo most games at five on five and he's not visible or dominating beyond the few games after his benching. It's troubling he struggled with Tavares because Okposo is the top draft pick expected to be a scoring power forward, to take the pressure off Tavares and Moulson with a big game himself where he carries the line.

Bailey seems most noticeable short-handed as does Martin which are not good signs, sure they skate hard and generate chances at five on five. 

Niederreiter's throwing some big hits, he's coming close but not with the right line-mates to score.

Rolston's been invisible. Reasoner's been hurt or ineffective since camp. Pandolfo blocks shots, but provides no offensive game.  Tim Wallace is not a scorer.

Until the Montreal game, Mark Streit led the defenders in goals with three. For a little reference, Marc-Andre Bergeron, had nine goals in forty six games when he came here in a trade during the end of his first season.

That's a huge problem. 

Eaton, Staios, Jurcina point shots are not likely to produce goals. MacDonald/Hamonic have this ability but has not progressed this season in that area.

Let's also give Nabokov his due, where would this team be without him stealing some games?

For what this is worth it seems the second goalie whether it be Montoya, Poulin against Nashville are not ready when called upon.

Bottom Line here is this defense needs progression and changes before we can write anything happening now is built to last. A year ago there were reasons to believe a returning Streit, with Hamonic, MacDonald, Hillen, Wishart, Martinek could be faster and more productive based on the second half.

The current group is too old/slow/non-scoring/not-physical, that's a big reason why what's happened in 2011-12 cannot be considered team progression, despite Tavares natural individual progress.

Of course the answers could be in the system, who can be added to Hamonic, MacDonald, Streit, but for now what's here is very limited and it shows.

Moving Forward:
It's game by game now. This team plays like it did against Carolina, Ottawa will defeat them handily as will most teams in playoff spots desperate for points. Tavares has to again put the club on his back far too early in his young career. 

If the clubs around them are in sell-mode, the New York Islanders need to have the same mindset because the standings do not lie, nor do the weaknesses.

Sure you can be a seller and work just as hard toward a playoff spot. 

Of course the depth is so thin management likely needs these players just to finish out the schedule while Bridgeport's prospects work toward a playoff spot and an experience they need.