Monday, December 8, 2008

Quickly, Before Another Game Hits the Ledger

I was as surprised as many others at the praise and optimism in the Islanders' locker room following Saturday night's loss to the Thrashers. Under certain circumstances, you may accept that a loss was a good loss. This was not one of those times.

It is true that the Islanders controlled the flow of play for the most part. But the attack was fruitless, and the puck ended up behind Joey MacDonald five times. If Weight, Hunter, Streit, and Guerin aren't scoring, no one is. Frans Nielsen and Kyle Okposo can't come back fast enough. Opposing defenses simply don't have enough to worry about right now. Josh Bailey is pointless in his last five games and is getting killed on faceoffs.

But Scott Gordon was willing to focus on "some pretty good energy" and declared that the power play was also "pretty good." MacDonald thought "the team played pretty well." Andy Sutton opened with, "Sometimes you play really well and lose."

But he, and the others, also backed off the positivity the more they spoke. And when Gordon said, "We had missed coverage on 3 of the 4 goals" and "We were doing something very wrong in the offensive zone and the forecheck," it's hard to take too much good away from the pretty good.

Gordon seemed more exasperated than usual in trying to answer questions. But I'm somewhat convinced that he was at least as exasperated with the having to answer questions as he was with his team's play, perhaps way more so.

In the end, I really have no problem if the Islanders are in a let's-keep-the-energy-positive mode. I don't think the alternative would serve them very well. But pointing to the energy, the plus margin in scoring chances and puck possession, and the negative differential in bounces and breaks just rang a little hollow on this night.

What if Streit or Comeau had connected with the back of the net instead of the post with just over nine minutes remaining? Well, it would have been a 4-2 game with just over nine minutes remaining. Nothing about the game convinces me that the end result would have been any different.

Finally, I don't know if running MacDonald out there every single game is a wise move. I can see decent arguments for both sides of that issue. What I can say is that in the locker room after a 5-1 loss on Saturday night, MacDonald did not look at all burdened by fatigue.

Game 26: Thrashers 5, Islanders 1
Fantasy Stars of the Game
1st Star: Chris Campoli (1 SOG, 2 BkS, 15 PIMs, 1 hit)
2nd Star: Tim Jackman (2 SOG, 15 PIMs, 2 hits)
3rd Star: Bill Guerin (1 G, 1 PPG, 2 SOG, 4 hits)
4th Star: Brendan Witt (5 BkS, 8 hits)
5th Star: Trent Hunter (3 SOG, 4 PIMs, 3 hits)
Faceoffs (W-L): Sillinger 6-5, Weight 7-7, Park 8-2, Thompson 6-2, Bailey 4-10

In case you missed it, A.J. Perez has a Q&A with Doug Weight in USA Today.

New York Islander Fan Central points to a story in Sports Business Journal that suggests the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center as a possible home for the Islanders if the USTA puts a roof on Arthur Ashe Stadium. While a move to Queens would be a boon to my game attendance, the upper level of Ashe is ridiculously far away from the playing surface. Fans will put up with watching specks on skates for the Winter Classic, but would they do so game in and game out of an NHL season?


IslesFanInCA said...

Watching 2nd period highlights of Bruins game and they show Chara scoring...then they show Pens highlights and one of the broadcasters says "Fedotenkos is one of the best finishers in the NHL".

Why did we get rid of those 2 players? Seems like we could really use them right now.

Islanders Outsider said...

I have to call exaggeration on the broadcaster's assessment of Fedotenko. But Chara was certainly a huge loss for the franchise, and just one of many "Why did we?" moments that the Islanders are still trying to recover from.