Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Late Breakdowns Leave Isles Adrift

I'm not going to lie. I thought the season would turn out a lot better than it did. Unfortunately, Thursday's (3/13) game against Washington featured another blown lead, another overtime loss, and more fan angst.

Leading 4-1 late in the second period, the Islanders allowed three unanswered Capitals goals and lost in a shootout, 5-4.

The fact that this year's Islanders have failed to close so many winnable games has left me (and surely all of you) completely discouraged.

The scabs don't need to be picked again. Pointing fingers doesn't solve the glaring problems that plagues this team. But I am haunted by the fact that this team has let (and continues to let) so many points slip away. Against Washington (again), New Jersey, the Rangers, and so on. And that has just been within the last two weeks!

The Isles blew the lead yesterday in a game that typified the types of stumbles and missteps they have endured all season. Sure, there were good individual efforts, such as John Tavares' three points and Kyle Okposo's pair of assists.

However, the parts haven't nearly added up to a competitive sum.

Some fans and media are suggesting that the parts need to be replaced. Others have gone with the old motto of "You can't fire the players," suggesting that fresh coaching is the way to go.

I, however, don't think either is the right approach. I think that the only thing that can right this foundering ship is a major influx of talent. Only then will the fans become more receptive to season ticket renewal letters without bouts of anger and scorn.

Manager Garth Snow has his work cut out for him. He has little more than one able scoring line and some serviceable goalies (both of whom are pending free agents). He has some goaltending prospects in his deck and a possible scoring threat (Ryan Strome) on the way.

And that's about it.

He needs to completely rebuild a defense which was an utter failure, save for Travis Hamonic, Mark Streit, and Andy MacDonald. And even Streit didn't have a very good year.

If he can make trades for the Ryan Smiths and Christian Ehrhoffs of the world, and pay veterans like Brian Rolston over $5 million for very little, surely Garth can pull this off. Maybe not build a Vancouver-like powerhouse, but a team at least good enough to capture a #7 or #8 playoff seed.

Sure, it's nice that Tavares has set his career high in points and Matt Moulson has his third straight 30 goal season. But if it means missing the playoffs year after year then it's worth nothing.

To continue on this path is just wasting these players' careers. And that's a shame.

The young players who really care about this team and Long Island deserve better. I, who have been writing about this team for five seasons and have yet to attend a postseason game, deserve better.

Most importantly, the fans deserve better.

I hope that Charles Wang, with an understandably uncertain future in this market, at least allows Garth Snow to try this offseason. That's all we can ask.


Rangerhater said...

#7 or #8? News flash.... that's not good enough. You don't believe getting rid of players or the coach is the way to go? But you think the fans would appreciate more talent. Of course the fans would appreciate more talent, but you need to get rid of players who aren't getting the job done to make room for talent. I don't think you understand hockey, the way it's supposed to be played, or how to watch it.
Here it is, the team is small.They have no idea what they are doing out there (no game plan). They don't have the right mix of young talent and veterans that's necessary to be competitive. If you feel we have a "good enough" talent pool then we need the right coach to bring it all together. You don't say in one thought that you don't think the coach or the players should be fired then in a completely different thought say the defense needs to be rebuilt. The entire organization needs to be cleaned out. FYI this rebuild has been taking place for decades, not since Okposo started playing on Long Island.

Ken Dick said...

I appreciate your comments. I think the frustration level is very high right now among everyone. What I was trying to say is that I don't think trading Okposo, Grabner, Nino, etc. is the way to go. They have all had completely crappy seasons but I think they can contribute down the road. So, no, I don't want a complete tear down like you suggest.

Furthermore, I think you have unrealistic expectations for next season. You wouldn't be happy with a #7 or #8 seed? This team hasn't come anywhere near anything better than that in 10 seasons. I know this, because I have been watching them since 1985.

Maybe I could have expressed my thoughts better, but I'm annoyed like the rest of us.

Thanks again for reading and commenting and sharing your passion. Please continue to do so.