Peter Botte’s latest article said Isles fans should hold Jack Capuano and Garth Snow fully accountable for the current state of the team. I think we can all get behind that. Everyone involved, from the players on up should be held accountable for their role in the current state of the team, but exactly what will that mean for the New York Islanders in Brooklyn on Friday when they face the Stanley Cup Champion, Pittsburgh Penguins? Without something crucial finding the means by which to change, the struggle would seemingly remain.
On October 25th, I wrote an evaluation of the Isles 6 games into the young season. Their shortcomings were real but there was a list of things that were working and some that needed improvement, from a team that believed they had the horses to become a serious contender in the east. The leadership and consistency that they needed night in and night out to compete with the likes of a Montreal, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay or a suddenly surging New York Rangers team (13-4 including Michael Grabner with13 pts in 16 games) was in short supply. Per Michael Schuerlein, “Too many things that worry me about #Isles among them: Rudderless, zero accountability, goal scoring, depth, Tavares's future, and silence”
On November 3rd, Jack Capuano reacted defensively to a question asked in a post-game interview about his level of concern for the slide the Islanders found themselves on. “Where are we going to get point production? Took 134 points out of our line up (Nielsen, Okposo & Martin) that we lost, and now we’ve got to find a way … to get some balanced offense on our hockey team. That’s my concern.” Whether his team has stopped playing for him or the chemistry lost or changed has been too much to overcome right now, the 2015-16 Islanders aren’t living up to expectations. Expectations of the fans, the new ownership and for themselves. Losing a Frans Nielsen was huge. Losing the points and fire provided by Kyle Okposo and the heart of Matt Martin is something that will hurt unless you, as the organization, do something about replacing it. Garth Snow made some moves that he felt were suitable to do just that, but so far, haven’t delivered. And ultimately, its his show to run.
The Islanders are now 16 games into the season, 6 points (-11 diff) and 7 spots out of a playoff race that traditionally shows a strong indicator of late season playoff positioning by the Thanksgiving break that is just a week away. All the things that needed to improve like balanced scoring, holding on to leads, improving PP, playing well late in the game by their veteran players just isn’t happeneing. Alan Walsh, an agent for Jaroslav Halak (3-5-3, 3.09 gaa & .904Sv%) and JF Berube (and PA Parenteau) got his clients into the news when he complained the goaltenders don’t get enough practice within a three goalie system to stay sharp. The Islanders responded by saying the impending free agent, and client to Walsh, Jaroslav Halak was available on the trade market. Last year’s hero, Thomas Greiss is struggling behind his team with a 2-3-0 with a 2.71 gaa & a .909Sv%. JF Berube continues to wait for his turn.
As of last night, their scoring is 14th (40), a PP that ranks 26th (10.4%) in the NHL, their goaltending is 24th (49) in goals against, tied for 1st for times shorthanded (64). Top signings, Andrew Ladd (2 & 1 for 3 pts and a -4) and Jason Chimera (1 & 5 for 6 pts and -6) haven’t made the intended splash as of yet and the future young guns of Lee & Strome have 7 points combined so far.
So what this all boils down to is either a coming of age for a team who feels they can take the next step or a team that will cling to an inefficient incarnation. One built from the plans and ideologies that promised a rebuild from the ground up with home grown talent and promising free agents. I think they should be better than their record and they, despite how badly they have played, aren’t out of it yet. But none of that matters. What matters is that that unless you fix what is broken, things will continue to worsen. Those things that need to be addressed are team leadership and results from the depth of talent. We all know the potential of a Michael DalColle, Josh Ho-Sang and Mathew Barzal. But with a John Tavares in his prime with 2 years left on his $5.5M per contract, the Islanders need their top veteran talent to complement their superstar forward and right now, that is not happening.
Brian Compton posted a quote from Capuano on if the roster needs a boost via trade. This time, Capuano said, "It's on me. I have to find the right combinations for us to find some offense." A quote that has a little different connotation that the one we heard on November 3rd insinuating that the losses of the club outweighed the gains and he was working with what he had. Garth Snow has done some great things and based on the misfiring machine he currently puts on the ice, can stand to make a few more tweaks to his hockey club. Rumors abound about Capuano being days away from dismissal, about Snow on the hot seat and more jeers about the ‘same old Islanders.’ How will the new majority ownership proceed in lessening mediocrity of a team that now sits in last place within the eastern conference?
Mercifully, the series with the Lightning is over. A 3-0 sweep by Tampa Bay that saw New York undone and embarrassed at times, outscored 14-2 over 3 games. An overall refocus and a new outlook is sorely needed and it needs to start with a balanced attack. Eric Hornick points out that the Isles are 0-7-2 when they can’t manage to score 3, so the offense just isn’t carrying their share of the load. If it wasn’t for the defense, the Isles wouldn’t be scoring nearly as much. The blue liners have 13 (& 33 for 46pts) of the 40 goals the team has scored this season.
The Islanders seem to be out of sync and going through the motions, almost waiting for something to change. But good things don’t always come to those who wait. We should know. We have been waiting for quite a while.
Aey, Islanders fans?
Per Bob McKenzie: "I don't think Garth Snow has any intention whatsoever of making a coaching change at this time."
Per Arthur Staple, “Talked to a couple Lightning players and asked about the Barclays Center ice. "It's 10 times better than ours."
11/14 Travis Hamonic returns to Islanders line up.
Dennis Seidenberg was placed on IR with an upper-body injury (out indefinitely). Scott Mayfield was recalled on emergency basis.
11/9 Mathew Barzal was returned to the Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)
The Sound Tigers have signed goaltender Josh Robinson to a PTO due to injury to Christopher Gibson.
11/7 Travis Hamonic was placed on the team's IR list. Adam Pelech was recalled from Bridgeport Sound Tigers (AHL).
10/25 Steve Bernier cleared waivers and was assigned to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
Per Brad Kurtzberg, “Former #Isles goalie Kevin Poulin signs a one-year deal with Astana Barys of the #KHL.”
Per Magnus Larsson “Former #Isles Sean Bergenheim joins ditto Matt Donovan in Gothenburg's SHL team, Frölunda Indians.”
New plans for Coliseum revealed per Newsday.