"And, of course, sadly, the Islanders lost to the Los Angeles Kings 2-1."
--Sports update Tuesday morning on WRXP
The Kings weren't built in a year, nor will the Islanders be. But, oh (and woe), the losing. The beginning of a new season has optimism programmed into it, regardless of whether the team finished 3rd or 30th the previous year. Even if you know in your heart that the bottom five is overwhelmingly more likely than the top 16, there is always the hope that things will click this year—that the development of the next generation of Islanders will take a leap forward instead of a step.
And then four games go by without a win.
Suddenly you are awakened from your October honeymoon by the cold reality that if the ship is ever going to be headed in the right direction, it is still hanging around the pier looking for a clear lane.
The Islanders are not in an adjustment period. They are not off to a slow start. They are still dangerously thin on talent. They have shown an ability to compete, but not a sustainable one.
They have not shown a knack for winning when the game is on the line and a win is in reach.
The second half of last year was productive in that it resulted in John Tavares becoming an Islander. It was not, however, enjoyable.
Could it be that, not even at the midpoint Of October, we are already in the position in having to endure a season the way we endured that second half '08-'09?
The thought of it seems insufferable. But it is painfully obvious that the Islanders need another high lottery pick. We want these guys to be good because they're our guys. But most of them are never going to be as good as we want them to be.
For the Islanders to enjoy success in the standings this year, the following would have to happen (forget about Kyle Okposo, John Taveras, and Mark Streit—you know what they are and you can just enjoy them):
- Trent Hunter would need to go 25-25-50.
- Josh Bailey would need to go 15-25-40.
- Frans Nielsen would need to 15-30-45.
- Doug Weight would need to stay healthy and perform at the same level he did when healthy last year.
- The team would have to get its goals against per game under 2.90, at least.
- A defenseman other than Streit would need to score double-digit goals.
How many of those things are likely to happen?
Streit had 16 goals last year. Do you know how many goals the other six defenseman on the Islanders' roster had last year? 16. Granted neither Andy Sutton nor Freddy Meyer played in as many as 30 games. But Streit cannot be the only offensive threat from the blue line.
Hunter is already missing several weeks of games due to a pec injury. Weight has been in and out of the lineup with a groislander injury (did you already do that one, Dom?). And Bailey has looked nothing like a player who's going to sniff 15 goals or 40 points.
So my optimism bubble has burst early this year. The good thing is that they have virtually an entire season to prove me wrong, or get the difference-maker draft pick they have to have again.
But right now I don't care for the pain and the drudgery of another season with little to cheer about. I have losing fatigue. I'm actually thinking about steering my son toward the Yankees. Or, you know, Civil War battle re-enactments. Those plans always turn out exactly how they built 'em.