The Islanders are hot. The Tampa Bay Lightning are not. The result has been the Tampa Bay Lightning, 5 seasons after their amazing Stanley Cup Championship and one season after netting themselves ANOTHER 1st overall pick in Steven Stamkos are "challenging" the Islanders for the last spot overall.
I am getting nauseated over the prospect of Tampa Bay again tanking another season to get their hands on coveted youngsters John Tavares or Victor Hedman.
This is a team that spent millions and millions of dollar sin free agency this past off season. This is a team that has one of the greatest players in the world on their team in Vinny Lecavalier. This is a team that has speed, scoring talent, a young talented goaltender and
they have NOT been besieged by injury.
So whats the problem? How can they be only 3 points ahead of the Islanders who have been in the basement all season? Let us examine -
1) Vinny and Marty don't seem to care. - There. I said it. St. Louis and Lecavalier are in it for themselves and you know what? I don't blame them. The organization has done absolutely nothing right in the last 3 seasons to improve themselves. One good move has been met wth 3 horrid moves.
The team and its fans got on the Stamkos bandwagon so heavy that the fans were expecting Mario Lemieux when he debuted. He was buried in the lineup getting 8-12 minutes of ice time per game and doing what most 18 year olds do in the NHL, and that's learn. I am sure St. Louis and Lcavalier have had their problems with that.
The team has a built in cash cow with Vinny, and I think he knows he is being used to keep the organization afloat. Never a good thing when your superstar isn't happy and really who can blame him?
You think the Islanders have been mismanaged? take a look at the Lightning's bizarre course of action over the last couple of seasons.
2) Dan Boyle - San Jose Shark - How do you sign arguably the best offensive defenseman in the game to a 6 year deal in Boyle then ship him off to San Jose for nothing?
The Bolts have been crucified in the local Tampa media over that move and rightfully so. TSN has scalded them every chance Pierre Maguire and others has had and again, rightfully so.
3) Islanders dump all vets and Improve? - Its true. The Islanders are improving. They play hard and they are starting to get it. It all bodes well for next season to see the improvement in the players game.
I have been impressed with Okposo's improvement, along with the progress of Jack Hillen, Blake Comeau, Yan Danis and even Josh Bailey.
Believe it or not, Dean McAmmond has been a positive influence in the locker room. Bottom line is the Islanders have been in every game they have played the past 3 weeks and have looked really good doing it.
It looks as if the Islanders will be challenged for the top overall pick by the amazing amount of ineptness being currently shown by the Lightning. If they finish in the 30th spot this season, which now appears like a very good possibility it is a black eye not only on the Lightning, but the NHL as well. The most marketable star in the NHL not names Ovechkin and Crosby is buried in the grossest mismanagement of talent and a franchise in recent memory.
And yes.. that includes the Islanders.