Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Last Gasp

Anyone else get to watch way more of the Olympic Soccer qualifier between the U.S. and Cuba than you thought you would be able to watch? No? Then what did you flip the channel to when the Islanders game became too unbearable to watch? I'm not sure which result was more disappointing, really. The U.S. Soccer Federation is far more developed than the Cuban program. A 1-1 tie against Cuba on home soil by our Under-23s falls well short of expectations. Not securing those 3 points in the group was a major letdown. But it was not nearly as disheartening as the performance by the Islanders in Tampa.

I do feel a little sorry for Ted Nolan. It's not fair to ignore the fact that his defensive corps last night included two players from the shallow end of the depth chart and one who has resorted to joking about the relationship between his presence on the ice and pain pills. The forward corps featured Tambellini, Comeau, Colliton, and Walter and played shorthanded with Hilbert exiting the lineup before the opening faceoff and Fedotenko eventually being forced to the locker room. Many of us want to see what the kids can do, but the coach was visibly frustrated with having to rely on them at this point. And there are more coming. I suppose the silver lining is that we can be excited about seeing these kids play at the NHL over the final eleven games rather than watching disappointed and unmotivated vets mope out the string. Just be prepared for a few clunkers like last night.

And speaking of clunkers. The first goal against last night almost resulted in the first-ever obscenity being posted on this blog. Watching DiPietro give away an early goal in a do-or-die game prompted an exclamation from me that I wanted to post. I restrained myself. But I'm sure somebody else said and posted the same thing, which was: "Rick, stay in the net!" with an extra word inserted before net. I was surprised that Nolan called him out so directly after the game, but the coach is obviously running out of ways to get through to him. It has not been the most harmonious of times for the Islanders' bench leader. That was as close to being unhinged as I can recall seeing him.

The ebb and flow of a season can do funny things to one's perception. It was just a few months ago that I was extolling the value of having DiPietro as a fixture in goal. Today, the doubts start creeping back in. What if we have a Yashin x 1.5-sized albatross on our hands? DiPietro has come a long way, but it appears now that there's more maturing left to be done than I thought. It doesn't matter how important a part of his game puckhandling is. That particular skill has been the direct cause of pucks going in the net too many times. I've watched many Islander teams have great difficulty clearing the puck, so I understand his desire to care of business himself. But the direct-to-the-back-of-the-net conversions are deflating, even more so than the defensive giveaways by actual defensemen that lead to goals. I can imagine that Nolan is giving serious consideration to playing Dubie tonight against the Panthers. But just to be fair, this was far from being all Rick's fault. The season had been drifting steadily toward that dangerous falls that means the end of the line. Last night, the boat went over.


7th Woman said...

A little sorry for Ted? A Little? How about a lot. Every time he blinks, another "Islander" goes down and another "Sound Tiger" gets on a bus.

ken d. said...

Looking at DP's career stats page...the pattern is right there (GAA & sv%): Good year, bad year, good year, bad year. Which can only mean that he's due for a good 08-09. We hope.

Anyway, thanks for the link. This season (and our hard work) will be worth something if they finally attain a franchise-altering player. And it doesn't necessarily have to be Stamkos.

Oh, about that Rocky clip...we subscribe to the Conan O'Brien school of entertainment. If it isn't random and disjointed, we don't want it!

Be well...

Dominik said...

Man, that really is the killer part of it: that a giveaway goal by the goalie is more deflating even than by a defenseman.

I wish I'd kept a tally this year of the goals against that have come in this form (I'd probably exclude bad bounces off the Nassau glass). I don't know what the magic number would be at which point it becomes a net negative (for one, it's impossible to determine how many he's prevented by clearing well, though a little easier to track how many goals for he's started with good passes), but it'd be interesting to track as his career continues.

Islanders Outsider said...

The number is probably lower than we think because those goals just really stand out. I guess another question is, how many of those types of goals does the average goalie give up?