Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Good and the Bad Part X - A Season in Reflection

Hello fans. In this the next in the most popular recurring column on The Voice we will discuss this season as it is drawing to a close. For about 65 games this season, the Islanders were defying the odds. They were making the so called "experts" who picked the team to finish 15th in the conference, and 30th in the league look like fools. In what seems like a year ago the team was 5 points out of first in the conference with a game against the Devils to try and make it 3. Then the bottom fell out. DP was obviously hurting and was not playing up to his abilities. The defense became decimated by injury. The offense, always suspect, also touched by injury absolutely shut down. The Power Play with the trade of Bergeron lost whatever teeth it had, and the penalty killing, which had the team in the top 5 in the league in that regard absolutely went in the gutter. So here the team stands now at 75 points, 13th in the conference and out of the playoffs. Most of the promising kids in the organization are with the team right now as the Islanders will most certainly lose over 400 man games to injury and they seem to be making the most of their opportunity, playing very well over the last 3 games.

1 - SNOW IS CAPABLE - The Islanders showed that in their current state with their current personnel, you do not need that high priced superstar to be a competitive team. When healthy, Snow and Nolan put together a very competitive team that probably was not going to win a cup, you add a player here and there and maybe you have a contender.

2 - THE YOUNG PLAYERS EARNING SPOTS - Now that they are out of the race they are getting a very good look at the young players in the organization. Matt Spiller, Jeff Tambelini, Kyle Okposo, Jeremy Colliton, Blake Comeau, Steve Regier and Frans Nielson have all made great cases to stick with the team next season, and I think they all have played their way onto the Islanders roster for next season. Promoting these guys would enable the team to have more cap space available to pursue a solid blueliner and a scoring winger.

3 - COACH NOLAN IS THE MAN - The Islanders coach proved this season to his players that through hard work you can compete in the NHL. They followed Nolan's plan, and they were contenders for a bulk of the season before injuries took their hold on the team.

Time to switch to..
1 - NO EXCUSES - Since when are injuries an excuse for losing? It almost seemed as though the team was waiting for an excuse to fail and they got one through injury and seemed to shut down as a result.

2 - DP, THE WEAK LINK? - I this going to be a yearly occurrence? DP lights the world on fire and peters out with season ending injuries? Thats 2 hip surgeries in 2 seasons with 13 seasons to go. With his concussion history you cannot help but be concerned about DP as talented as he obviously is his sometimes reckless style of play exposes him to injury. You cannot tell him to reign it in because its one of the things that makes him the goaltender he is. He needs to be healthy for this team.

3 - COACH NOLAN IS A LAME DUCK - What kind of a message does this send to the players and the fans? The players all seem to love the guy and respond to his message that hard work can overcome the lack of talent. He needs a contract extension and needs one before the start of the next season.

There you have it, 3 for and 3 against. Let me know what points you agree or disagree with. There are five games to go and I will be blogging through the summer especially around what should be a huge draft day and should be a VERY interesting Free Agent period on July 1st so come on back to The Voice all summer!!


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Looking Ahead - A Good Loss

Hello fans. I just got back from the Coliseum and witnessed the unthinkable. Rob Davison scored a goal? From 190 feet away? Shorthanded? The Leafs came away with the 3-1 victory after Davison's Hail Mary bounced over Toskala and into the net. Is the loss such a bad thing? The team is dead in the water when it comes to the playoffs but looking ahead you cannot help but get intrigued over the possibility of landing a lottery pick in this year's NHL Draft. There are 7 sure fire NHL players in this draft, and some experts say the top 30 players in this draft have a better than average shot of not only making it at the NHL level, but becoming impact players quickly. There are two forwards in Steven Stamkos and Nikita Filitov that probably would step right into any lineup in the NHL. If the Islanders could somehow manage to land either of them we would have the top notch can't miss player in the vein of Dany Heatley, Ilya Kovalchuk, Marian Hossa, Evegni Malkin, Sydney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin that we as Islander fans are so used to seeing go to other teams around us and light the world on fire. I am sick of it. The last time we landed the number one pick we drafted DP. I will not get into discussing the trades that Milbury made but some have said that choices crippled this franchise and it has not recovered from it. Landing one of these kids would be a MAJOR step in the right direction of landing that jewel of a player the Islanders can truly build around. I will and ould never openly root against the Islanders, but you gotta admit the thought of landing the number 1 or 2 overall pick in this year's draft is an appetizing one.

By the way, the St. Louis Blues and Columbus Blue Jackets won tonight. good for us, bad for them. Dont look now but the team is currently 27th in the league which would net us a lottery pick. All we need is the Thrashers and Lightning to pick up their play. The Islanders have a VERY tough schedule to close out the season with 2 games each against the Penguins, Devils, Flyers and Rangers. So anything is possible.


Monday, March 17, 2008

The Good and the Bad Part IX - Kyle Okposo is Here

Yes fans its true.... The Good and the Bad is Back. Well fans it is time for Kyle Okposo to make his debut with the New York Islanders against the hated Leafs tomorrow night at the Coliseum. The Islanders now dead and buried as far as the playoffs go have chopped 50% off he price of all tickets for the game so get on out there is you have the time. Lets get right to the Good and the Bad as it pertains to the hottest Islander prospect not a goaltender to debut since Bryan Berard.

1 - The NHL is getting younger Its about time the Islanders followed suit - Everyone knew this would be the date Okposo debut because of the way his contract is structured. He plays 9 games and his 3 year deal starts next season. He starts 10 games and his 3 year deal starts right now. More and more forwards that cannot legally especially are starting and sticking at the NHL level younger and younger. Look at the Penguins, Blackhawks, Oilers, Ducks, Coyotes etc etc. This may sound funny but aging veterans are a thing of the past. Pun intended.

2 - A Cup of Coffee before the real career begins - Any experience he can get on the ice with NHL players is a positive and ease his transition to the Islanders full time next season. Familiarizing himself with the speed and skill at this level will be a major positive to his game. The bottom line is if the kid is not ready to play at this level then he may never be.

3 - Maybe some people will came to see him play and geez.. help the offense? - We have heard his name since he was drafted. Okposo this, Okposo that he is the future he is the real deal he is the man. Maybe the lone fact that he will get to prove himself in this stint will get some people in the seats and inject a little life into a lifeless, starved for offense team.

1 - Confidence - He better be ready. If he cannot be the focal point of the offense it could hurt his game. If he is outclassed and not ready then the team is risking long term damage to their prized prospect.

2 - Its a cheap ploy to sell tickets. - No one is coming to the games for the rest of the season unless they are Ranger fans. Do not use the kid to try and sell tickets.

3 - Whats the point? The rest of the team is dead in the water and bringing him into it can only be a bad influence. This kid should only be around a team that is playing for something. The Islanders stopped playing meaningful games 2 weeks ago.

Let me know what points above you agree or disagree with. I will be at the game Tuesday to hopefully see KO run over Blake on route to scoring his 1st NHL goal.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Random Thoughts Is BACK!!

Hello Fans. The voice returns to its roots and presents 5 random thoughts as it pertains to the New York Islanders. The playoffs have become a near impossibility after last nights pounding at the hands of the mighty Tampa Bay Lightning. (Yes that is sarcasm.) After being contenders for most of this season, the team is unraveling before our eyes and the possible implications and bad blood could be a serious problem for the team moving forward. These 5 points will examine this latest dive in performance and other "Random Thoughts"

1 - Nolan and DP at War? - Missing the playoffs is not the worst thing that can happen to the team. The worst thing for this team is for its Coach, who by all accounts is a quality coach and the man to run this team and its franchise goaltender who is signed for another 13 years to be sniping at each other after the team gets pounded by the Lightning. Bad Blood between DP and Nolan at this time could only result in bad news in the highest order. What is the team going to do if this escalates out of control? Fire Nolan? You certainly can't trade DP, his contract prohibits that. I would not be going out on a limb to say that DP would make himself not to popular with a lot of the players and fans that love Nolan if this escalates to the point where Nolan resigns or gets fired. You saw what happened when Yashin fell out of favor with the fans and organization. Tack on another 9 years and 38 million on top of that mistake if this goes to the bad place it is capable of. Lets hope it was frustration and does not turn to dislike and content between the Coach and the Goalie.

2 - The 6 Game winning streak has cost us. - The last horrid stretch that has seen the team go 8-16 with two stretches (0-7, and 2-9) around a 6 game winning streak probably cost the team in more ways than we can count. Snow said he held most of the team intact because the 6 game streak got them right back in the hunt. Now they will probably lose Satan, Vasicek, Fedotenko and God knows who else for nothing when they could have been turned into a couple of draft picks. Granted we will never know what this cost the team, but it cost us something. Damn that winning streak. Hopefully we will get shot at the 1st overall pick, because there are 2 or 3 gems out there that could help the team right now.

3 - Big Splash or small ripples? - What do we do in the off season? I happen to believe that maybe the proper approach will be to use what is left of the season to judge what we have within the organization. There are some kids that need to get top 6 ice time. Ben Walter, Jeff Tambelini, Jeremy Colliton, Mathew Spiller, Drew Fata, Blake Comeau, Franz Nielson (if he is healthy) and Kyle Okposo should all be brought up and given heavy ice time RIGHT NOW to see what they are capable of at this level so they can accurately judge what they have within the organization before they go out of it to bring in other talent at a great expense. There is no reason I can see anymore to have Satan, Fedotenko, Davison, Meyer and other vets in the lineup. Its totally pointless. Why bother developing and keeping young talent if they are not going to at least give them a real shot at this level. On bringing in players from other teams - we need a PP QB in the worst way. They are harder to come by than goal scorers which are a dime a dozen in comparison.

4 - Lighthouse Project covered on WFAN - Charles Wang represented himself in the best way possible on WFAN when Mike and the Mad Dog were in the Coliseum. Mr. Wang remains confident that they will have the deal done and construction will commence on the Coliseum as soon as June of 2009. The ball is still in The Town of Hempstead's court and I would suggest any person that if for the project to contact the office of Kate Murray and let your local politicians know that you want this project to go forward.

5 - "Core of the Four" - We are all proud of what this team accomplished during the amazing run it had in the 80's. That being said I have heard more fans express displeasure at yet another celebration surrounding the greats of the past. I personally do not have a problem with it, but it definitely feels a bit forced that the team keeps bringing the greatest team ever assembled back for another waving at the crowd moment. How about making these guys proud of the current product on the ice and elevating the team above mediocrity? How about getting that disgrace of a building and surrounding area rebuilt so that when these guys do come back to the Coliseum, they can be proud of the building instead of ashamed of the place they accomplished something that will never be repeated?

Let me know what your thoughts are on the latest version of Random Thoughts. Feel free to discuss these points or some of your own Random Thoughts. See you at the Coliseum.


Monday, March 10, 2008

Stick a Fork in Em... They are DONE.

This is a post I was not looking forward to making but given the team's dire predicament right now being 7 points out of a spot and 3 teams in front of them the playoff rush seems to have run out of gas. The Islanders making the playoffs at this point would be the equivalent of lightning striking twice and I'm sorry my friends but it just ain't gonna happen. If I am wrong feel free to write in and bash the hell out of me. DP is not playing well, the defense is decimated by injury, the power play is beyond anemic and now the penalty killing has gone MIA.

It is now time to get the kids in the organization some serious ice time and not the 4:30 they have been averaging as of late. We only have two more games before Okposo can come up and get his cup of coffee in the NHL. I know what the organization says that we will fight to keep the hope alive but the sad fact is this team just does not have the tools to get the job done. They need to play perfect to win and they have been less than perfect over the last couple of weeks. Its time to look forward and not look back and see what the kids in this organization can do a this level so they may evaluate the best course of action in the off season which hopefully will include a 7 year 60 million dollar contract for Marian Hossa.

POLL RESULTS - Fans were polled to gauge the job the team did on deadline day and the results are clear. 25% of the respondents chose the "Good" choice with 50% of the voters picking the "Bad" choice and still another 25% choosing the "Awful" option. This weeks poll will center on what the team should do in the off season.


Thursday, March 6, 2008

Absolutely Disgusted - Do you know Why?

Yes fans I am POed. In case you haven't guessed, its because of the 4-1 loss to the hated Rangers and their legion of blue stained zombie fans, who like I have said before just don't want to win. No no.. thats not good enough, they have to grind your face in it when they do win. But I am not particularly that angry over that, because its to be expected from them. No its not Ted Drury and Gomez Adams ridiculous contracts, no its not Steve Avery and his child like antics, its not Brendan Hanrahan for his seeming out of the blue and lustful love for the Rangers and him calling MSG "the greatest place to play" and taking less money to play for the team basically spitting in the face of all of Hockeytowns faithful as well as every fan in Hartford for what he did to that franchise. Its not their defenseman Malik Rose or the "future Norris trophy winner" Jordan Staal. Its not their goalie Henrik Holmqvist. Not even team captain Mick Jagr for skipping the pre game warm-ups. So what it is that has got me so angry if its not their fans or their players like Rachel Dawes and Steve Dubinsky? Its not even Dee and her mad-woman like love for a certain diminutive Toronto winger.

I'll tell you what it is... Its the Islanders. Its always the little things that get me. Its not the same as playing your heart out and just flat getting beaten. Its not being able to muster so much as a shot on net on any power play, and even a 5 on 3 power play. I don't even believe it to be so much the players fault when your power play quarterback with the 100 MPH shot gets dealt away. Its not the players fault that we have 3 borderline AHL defenseman in the lineup, and one we had to trade a draft pick for. No that gets squarely placed on Nolan and Snow. However it is the current players that Blew those leads in Atlanta and New York, and got a whole 3 shots on goal in the 3rd period, and not one serious scoring chance. The 3rd period was like watching your little puppy get mauled by the a rich persons Rottweiler. Yeah they try, but they never really had a chance. On top of all of that you have the rich person laughing his ass off at you when you pull your goalie allowing a gimme to Steve Avery. Its the little things people. They say don't sweat the little things.... whoever said that didn't watch that 3rd period tonight and didn't see the Rangers dominate a 3 on 5 situation.

In closing the Islanders season now hangs on Saturday's game with the Flyers and a 4 game road trip. They need 6 points out of 8, anything less and they have got some serious problems... beyond what we saw tonight.


Monday, March 3, 2008

Islanders take 53 shots, Lose. Thoughts after "Core of the Four."

Reading that headline you would think that Jacques Plante came out of retirement to play for the Florida Panthers yesterday. You would think that Mr. Anderson made acrobatic save after acrobatic save. You would think he flashed the glove with that Brodeur like flair. Darting those pads out to get the shots that are labeled for the corners. You would think he was actually living up to his namesake from the "Matrix" trilogy, Neo using unearthly reflexes not to dodge bullets but to stop them. You would think all of that and you would be wrong.

Don't get me wrong, Anderson played very well yesterday but the fact of the matter is the shot total is indicative of the Islanders lack of scoring ability more than Anderson's ability as a net minder. I happen to think that Anderson is a very under rated net minder but lets get real that was no Ken Dryden like performance, and nor did it come close to Rick's 50 save effort against the Rangers. The Rangers have you know... scoring talent. I listened to the whole game on the radio driving back from Atlantic City and I wanted to reserve comment until I actually saw the game because without seeing it was impossible to tell whether I was misguided by thinking that Anderson should thank the Isles for the shut-out. How many of those 50 shots hit Anderson in the chest? Shooting is great, I mean you have to shoot to score goals. That being said a HELL of a lot more goals are scored in this league by hammering in rebounds and getting some traffic in front unless your talking about an elite sniper, which the Islanders unfortunately do not have. That Panther on the front of Anderson's jersey had to be begging for mercy after that game. I'm not saying it wasn't a good performance because you can't get a shutout in the NHL without a good performance. What I am saying is that the game puts a glaring spot light on the fact that this team cannot score goals. If I had a dime for every time I heard the play by play guy say "Off Anderson's chest" I would not have lost money in AC.