In between the week long media blitz the New York Football Giants are enjoying and the nonstop Johan Santana news, there was hockey played in New York.
The news regarding the play and recent results provided by the Islanders, though, is perhaps best left far from the colorful back pages of the sports dailies. In our opinion it belongs buried somewhere near the Dear Abby column or the used car ads. That is to say in a place where it's very hard to find and hidden from children, because their outings of late have been abominable. It's bad enough to lose frequently while being entertaining (think 1962 Mets), but the Islanders are currently stuck in the unenviable position of being mediocre and uninteresting.
Following Saturday's 4-1 loss to Montreal, the Isles have lost their last four games in a row. What's worse, they've averaged a paltry 1.25 goals per game over that span. The offense, normally thin, has become non-existent. With only a goal or so per night to work with, there isn't much Rick DiPietro or Wade Dubielewicz can do to earn wins between the pipes. Mind you, the team from Long Island hasn't won in front of its home fans yet in 2008.
By the looks of the game reports from The Tiger Track or Islesblogger.com, the fans are getting restless. In the important pre-trading deadline part of the season, sadly, the wins are not coming. With the good start this team had followed by a seemingly endless malaise, it's hard to tell if this team is still a playoff contender or headed right to the bottom of the table.
Furthermore, what seemed like shrewd free agent pickups just months ago are starting to feel like sunk costs (as the graphic above so clearly illustrates). No amount of line shifting, time on ice adjustments, or motivational speeches by coach Ted Nolan can seem to get this group of forwards scoring on a consistent basis. There might be some help in Bridgeport, but not nearly enough to right this sinking ship.
Speaking of the kids in Bridgeport (nice segue, huh?), their season hasn't been such a crackling affair either. They don't quite have enough talent to be a playoff team, and the only reasons to watch them are to follow the prospects on the top two lines.
Jeff Tambellini has played this season like a house on fire. American Hockey League teams can not stop him. He scored a goal in the AHL All-Star game and has (at last check) 56 points on the season. That's still a point per game.
Kyle Okposo, while not producing at that rate, has chipped in when possible, such as the assist he tallied on Friday night or the shootout goal he scored during Saturday night's victory in Hartford. However, at 2 goals and 8 assists in 11 games, he's going to need to show a lot more before (Islanders general manager) Garth Snow comes calling.
The Islanders are still high on centers Frans Nieslen and Ben Walter, who have done well assisting Tambellini but need to net a few more goals themselves.
Kudos also to goalies Mike Morrison and Joey MacDonald, who have been solid if not spectacular, but are stuck in a franchise logjam behind DP and Dubie. Their names only pop up if there's an injury scare to a goaltender on Long Island, though.
Getting back to Kyle, right now he's "paying his dues" in the minors. However, anyone who thinks he's going to magically save the Isles' season is sorely mistaken.