Sunday, February 14, 2010

And Now a Short Break...

The Olympic Games are upon us, which means NHL hockey will suspend its season for about two weeks. Unfortunately, all the talk of the Islanders charging into the break on a strong note didn't come to fruition.

The Islanders dropped a 4-3 Valentine's Day (Sunday, 2/14) contest to Ottawa, a game they led 3-1 after two periods. It was another disheartening loss in a season full of them.

While players like Andy Sutton are still talking playoffs in the locker room, the reality of the Eastern Conference would make such a scenario an extremely difficult task, if not an impossible one. Team members will never sound a sour note, at least publicly, to the media, but a quick look at the current standings show the grim picture. Sutton, whose name has been mentioned prominently in trade talks, might make the playoffs this season, but it likely won't be on Long Island.

Time constraints following the game did not allow us to speak with Kyle following the loss. We did, however, find out through another website that he will be spending some of the Olympic hiatus back home in Minnesota. Some of the team is off for a well-deserved vacation in sunny Mexico, while coach Scott Gordon and Mark Streit are headed to the Winter Games in Vancouver (Gordon as a coach for team USA and Streit as a member of team Switzerland).

As for us, our coverage won't cease, as we plan to bring you our assessment of some off-season changes that need to be made in preparation for 2010-2011, as promised. We'll also have any Islanders news that occurs away from the ice, such as a Lighthouse project update or a trade.

The Isles will swing back into action on March 2nd, when they take on the Chicago Blackhawks of the Western Conference. We hope that you'll stick with both us and the Islanders during this period of relative inactivity.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

New Career High

With his goal and assist on Saturday (2/13) against Tampa Bay, Kyle established a new personal high for points in a season with 40. He surpasses last year's 39 points (18 G, 21 A) in five fewer games. Congratulations to him, and let's hope he gets on a major roll after resting during the Olympic break.

With 20 games left post-break, what do you think Kyle's final points total will be this season? 50? 55? Can he reach 60? The comments section below is always open.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Back to Draft Watch

Unless the Isles can get things in gear really quickly, this season is going to be remembered as a tease. Garth Snow warned us all that the rebuild would be a slow and steady process, and we appreciate his honesty. But for a while it looked as if Garth's timetable was off and his team had arrived in contention ahead of schedule. Over the last few weeks reality has reared its ugly head.

The Isles have made progress. They have added pieces that will help when the team is serious about winning division titles and chasing championships. But that time is not now (we'll identify those players in a separate post during the Olympic break). Losing 9 of the last 11 games (the two wins coming via the shootout) have locked in the cold reality that 2009-2010 should again be about positioning for drafting well.

We are encouraged by the transition taking place. The end product just needs more time and better ingredients.

News and notes:

* Kyle Okposo is now scoreless in 7 straight games with 2 assists over that period.

* The Islanders currently sit 4th from bottom in the overall NHL standings.

* Sound Tigers defenseman Mark Katic will require shoulder surgery, joining Calvin DeHaan and Travis Hamonic on the injured prospects list.