Saturday, January 17, 2009

Playing to Win; Exclusive Comeau Quotes

"For the second half of the season, we're not measuring our success based on wins and losses, but whether we are giving up few chances and creating our own. We had a good number of quality chances against Boston, we just couldn't bury them."
When I first read that quote from Scott Gordon in the Islanders' preview of Saturday night's game against the Devils, I thought it was a refreshing and honest evaluation of where the team is positioned at this point in the season.

After reconsidering the quote, I wondered if it was a little too candid (along the lines of "Joey's not Ricky.") I think most fans will agree that regardless of development and the desire for the No. 1 overall pick in June, this team needs to throw in a few wins once in a while.

That idea was certainly strengthened by watching the 3-1 loss to the Devils. For most of the game, the Islanders looked like they had nothing to play for. Gordon certainly wasn't pleased with effort. I asked Blake Comeau, the Islanders' lone goal scorer on the night, about this approach of focusing on components of the game other than wins and losses. Here's what he had to say:

Islanders Outsider: Blake, with wins being tough to come by, is there any way you can sort of break things down to more specific goals and maybe progress from there? Building blocks, that kind of thing?

Blake Comeau: Well, I think any time you're going through a slump like this you have to start worrying about the little things and do the little things. Those are things that add up. And, you know, we talk about it, chipping pucks and playing physical. I think when we're playing physical as a team that's when we're playing our best hockey. And, you know, we've got to keep doing that.

Islanders Outsider: Coach Gordon had the comment yesterday about, you know, not worrying so much about wins and losses but things like getting more scoring chances than you're giving up. So is that the kind of thing you can focus on in practice and in the games to get where you need to be?

Blake Comeau: Definitely. I think that's where it starts is in practice. You know, when we got drills, we have to do them with a purpose. We have to shoot to score in practice and it's going to carry over into the game. We can't just go through the motions and hope things are going to turn around in games. That's something we gotta do. We gotta work hard and we gotta pull together to turn this around.

You do have to wonder how satisfying it could be for a player or a coach if the team consistently outchances its opponents only to consistently lose because it can't bury those chances. I like the idea of shooting to score in practice and not just going through the motions.

Regardless of how hard you work on generating your own chances and limiting your opponents' chances, there's an edge required for winning and establishing a winning culture. The Islanders should make sure not to put the pursuit of that edge on the back burner.


Jim McGlynn said...

Hey KR. Nice piece with BC!

Hey I'm curious. I believe this organization would have been better off had CW had just sought to build a new arena- the best, most modern 17K seat arena in the NHL, as opposed to a new city in Uniondale. I think his approach is hurting this franchise, perhaps irrevocably. Am I wrong? I'd love to hear your take.

All the best, Jim.

Islanders Outsider said...

Great to hear from you, Jim! I was just thinking yesterday that I needed to send you an e-mail to catch up. I'll get to that in a minute.

I understand the situation this way: the county decided it was going to develop that land and put out a request for proposals. The Wang/Rechler proposal was the one they chose. They've spent years planning and trying to launch the Lighthouse. With so much invested in it, and with the plans approved by the county, they simply cannot give up on the project. Simply building an arena only would be a different project that would conflict with the current one.

That being said, if he had to do it all over again, would Wang have tried to do it your way first? Maybe. And if this whole project should collapse, would he try a new approach? Right now, it sounds like no. But I certainly hope he would reconsider if the politics, economics, and logistics could be worked out.