Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Few Questions

Can the Isles win five in a row?
I read the other day that the Islanders have not had a five-game winning streak since 1994. If not for the seven-year drought, I would have a hard time comprehending that. Even taking the dark days into consideration, it's a remarkable note. (Correction: I looked into this further. According to the Islanders 2007-2008 Media Guide, they actually won six games in a row in December 2003.) It would be nice to see this team, at this point of the season, put up a five-spot on the schedule. Nonetheless, I'm not going to pin down such a streak as a must-have. The Isles can still afford to lose a game here and there. They don't have to nearly run the table. What they can't afford is any more losing streaks, even of the two- and three-game variety. If you haven't checked out James Mirtle's playoff push, the latest version shows that the Islanders need to finish up the season 14-7-1 in order to earn the estimated number of points that will be required to qualify for the playoffs. Right now he's putting that number at 92 in the Eastern Conference. I'm not currently buying the premise put forth in the Yahoo! Power Rankings that the Isles have too many teams to climb over. At this point, they can still just take care of their own business and keep climbing.

How far can the defensive corps bend before it breaks?
The loss of Andy Sutton hurts because replacing a 6'6" defenseman with a 6'1" defenseman simply isn't an even exchange. Hopefully Drew Fata can bring to the table comparable toughness and shutdown defense, if not comparable size. When I heard that Sutton would be out 4-6 weeks, my first thought was that Garth Snow's trade-deadline mission was now clear: acquire a big, stay-at-home defenseman above all else. Then I realized that Bruno Gervais is still considered day-to-day and Brendan Witt is considered anywhere from one to three weeks away. On top of that, Islander Frontier presents a pretty convincing argument for standing pat with the defense. The only scary part is the lack of available depth should the Gervais or Witt injuries linger or if someone else (bite my tongue) gets hurt. But, as we all know, this team's success hinges on top-to-bottom effort and playing the system. As long as the team as a whole is giving maximum effort and playing the system, I'm willing to believe that a young, inexperienced defenseman can step in during the stretch run and play up to speed if necessary. By the way, another Mirtle metric, his Rod Langway Award, exposes exactly what the Islanders are missing in Witt. Going by this measurement, at the time of his injury, Witt was the tenth-best defensive defenseman in the league.

Forgetting Someone, Versus?
Versus is currently running a commercial for its NHL coverage that centers around Alexander Ovechkin's quest for 60 goals. To build up the prestige of the accomplishment, the ad displays the names of great NHL goal scorers who previously reached the standard for which Ovechkin is now shooting. I'm doing this from memory, so forgive me if my recollection is faulty. The names we see in the commercial include Gretzky, Lemieux, Brett Hull, Esposito, and Lafleur. Can you think of anybody else whose inclusion would have been appropriate in a list of great goal scorers who put sixty pucks in the net? And it's not as though Mike Bossy occupies some lower quadrant of this list. See for yourself:

60-Goal Seasons
Milestone Breakdown
60(1x), 70(2x), 80(1x), 90(1x)
60(2x), 70(1x), 80(1x)
60(3x), 70(1x)
Br. Hull
70(2x), 80(1x)

That's right, Bossy is at the top of the list with Gretzky in this department. Granted, Bossy never hit any of those other sexy numbers. But his exclusion from this campaign is a shame.

Update: OK, so either I was imaging things or there's an edited version of the commercial. I just saw it again and the only names shown were Gretzky, Lemieux, and Hull. That would give the list a more contemporary slant, which certainly would be understandable in trying to relate Ovechkin to the recent greats who have accomplished the feat. If anyone has seen this ad with Espo and Lafleur included, please let us know. Otherwise, I have no idea why thoughts of those guys are in my head presently.

Update II: Ha, I'm not crazy! I guess Versus is showing this thing just about every commercial break now. Indeed, there is a version that includes the Esposito and Lafleur names! And a gaping hole where #22 should be.


Jim McGlynn said...

Hey Outsider. As always, a very enjoyable post, except of course for the part about Bossy. What an omission!

Islanders Outsider said...

Thanks, Jim. Always good to hear from you! I'm looking forward to your next inspired post. (No pressure!)

Sean said...

Notice how Hull's name is shown inside the crease. Versus' graphics guy a Sabres fan?

Jim McGlynn said...

Ken, your'e a popular guy. You are getting comments directed to you on my blog. Re. your point on Jeff T., the injuries, trade deadline, chris simon...its almost too much uncertainty for a fan to bear. It will be an eventful 2 weeks, and will keep us all busy!

Islanders Outsider said...

Sean, I saw your comment about Hull's name over on Japers'. Brilliant. I already had it in my next post, which will go up sometime tonight or tomorrow. Thanks for coming by.



1) 60 goal scorers? If the list in the post is what appeared in the ad, then Bossy, Selanne as well as Mogilny were omitted.
2) There is NO doubt among those who were lucky enough to see him play that Bossy was the best goal scorer of all time. Had he stayed healthy 700 would have been easily attainable. Possibly 800.

Islanders Outsider said...

Jim, I'm certainly not going to take any credit for the activity on your blog. You bring us there! Just happy to be playing in your backyard.

All of the uncertainty seems to be working. I never would have dared to dream that they would follow up the seven-game losing streak with six straight wins.

Islanders Outsider said...

That's just it, faux. Selanne and Mogilny, like Lafleur, only broke sixty once in their careers. Bossy hit 60 FIVE times. (By the way, I blew that one badly in the original post and I'm surprised no one has raked me over the coals for it yet.) I've posted previously about trying to come to terms with the projections of what might have been had he stayed healthy.

NYIsles1/IslesTigers said...

Hi Ken,

The Isles media guide actually list a six game winning streak in December 2002-03?

I know somewhere along the way I counted one of those wins as losses which brought me to December 1993 for the last five game winning streak (sorry if you got that from me) which was incorrect. I guess the site I looked at for this was incorrect.

That said I checked three sources and the December 02 streak was five games.

12/23/2002 Montreal 3 - 1
12/28/2002 Carolina 3 - 0
12/30/2002 Florida 2 - 1
12/31/2002 at Buffalo 1 - 0
1/3/2003 Boston Bruins 8 - 4

To my knowledge the Dec 93 streak was six games.

The sixty goal scorers by Versus not including Bossy is disgraceful.

Keep up the good work.

Dominik said...

Wow, I haven't seen that commercial (living under a Tivo rock, I guess), but that is such a shame.

It's not like Bossy existed in some mythical time where footage is sparse -- they should feature him and clue in youngsters today on how great he was!

I suppose it would be different if injuries hadn't kept him from playing into the early '90s when the NHL was "hot."

Islanders Outsider said...

Nyisles1, no the media guide does not a list a six-game streak in December 2002-03. It is as you have it now: a five-game streak from 12/23/2002-1/03/2003, and then a six-game streak the next season in December 2003 (12/21-12/31). But in talking about the team's last five-game winning streak, I referred to the December 2003 streak because, while six games, it does include a five-game streak and was the last time that the team won five games in a row. That's my logic anyway!

NYIsles1/IslesTigers said...

Thanks Ken,

I just updated this too.

The 02-03 streak was five games, the 03-04 streak was six games.

Hopefully they can keep winning until I finally get one

David Ember today at Espn listed the Goring trade as the sixth best NHL deadline trade???

Take Care.