Monday, November 29, 2010

New York Islanders: Capuano Results Mixed & Attendance

Jack Capuano has coached 5 games for the Islanders and while the effort has been there for the most part the results have been mixed.

The Islanders are injury riddled. Out right now -

Mark Streit
Kyle Okposo
Milan Jurcina
Andrew MacDonald
Jack Hillen

Also, Trent Hunter, Doug Weight and Mike Mottau are all dinged up.

Capuano so far has "simplified" the Gordon system which was said was high on situational coaching and given the team more freedom to be creative.

What exactly this means is a matter of opinion. Capuano has been called a players coach while Gordon is an X's and O's coach. That's the best way it can be explained.

Under Gordon the Islanders were not getting out shot by wide margins like they are now but that issue can be traced to the expanded responsibilities of two players - Bruno Gervais and Radek Martinek.

Both players came through the Islanders system and seem to be able to keep their jobs despite their porous defensive play.

You can put Columbus' overtime winner directly on Martinek's shoulders who was faked out so bad on the rush that his pants and jockstrap were in the opposite corner while he sat there wondering what just happened as the Jackets celebrated around him.

Sitting in the press box makes it easier to see who is in the right and wrong positions and who is hurting the team.

Gervais and Martinek are hurting the team and need to go. Who takes their place?

There has to be someone better in Bridgeport that has more sense defensively.

Mark Katic? Dustin Kohn? They cannot be any worse and should fill those gaps until Jurcina and MacDonald get back.

Dylan Reese has not embarrassed himself in his call up and Travis Hamonic has played brilliantly in his own end and came within a whisker of winning the Columbus game.

When Jurcina and MacDonald get back they should not replace Reese and Hamonic, they should replace Gervais and Martinek.

They can't get back soon enough.

Rick Dipetro has stepped up his game and is showing that he has something left other than befuddled looks and poor positioning.

Rick may never be as acrobatic as he once was and that's probably a good thing as his acrobatics no doubt contributed to his injuries. The last few games he has rarely been caught out of position. Its amazing the saves you can make when you don't have to dive across the crease every other shot.

Dipetro has seemingly shaken off the 2 years worth of rust and settled into a nice groove here and I look forward to seeing him continue his resurgence.

The fans have had doubts about Rick but at the same time most Islander fans are rooting hard for him.

The offense continues to struggle. That is not going to change unless the Islanders can trade Gervais and Martinek for Malkin and Ovechkin.

They will have to continue to throw the puck at the net and see what happens. Okposo is still 2 weeks away and how much he helps when he returns is a huge question mark.

The biggest thing the Islanders have to do is get healthy to fill the monstrous holes on defense and try to find ways to score goals. The goaltending has to remain solid.

The attendance at the Coliseum against the Blue Jackets was announced at over 8,000.

If there were over 3,500 people there I would be shocked. Support has always been a hard thing to attain for any team that isn't performing.

Look at Yankee Stadium in the late 80's and early 90's. They were drawing 15,000 a game and everyone was talking about how the area and stadium would never draw big crowds back to the Bronx.

Look what success brings and it shows that no matter where you play, if you win people will come.

Teams that don't win do not get crowds especially in New York. Not in this economy or in any economy.

Unless the Islanders start winning hockey games they will play in front of empty seats.

Its an ugly cycle isn't it?

You don't win, people don't go, the politicians see no one and wont budge on the building, so you can't improve the team through free agency.

There is one cure for all of the Islanders ills. Winning. Can they save this season and still challenge for that playoff spot?

They have 14 games before new years. I do not think that its crazy to say the team needs at least 20 points out of those 14 games. Some of the Injured Islanders including Okposo will return in December.

The season isn't over but the Islanders have to turn it around NOW. December is the Islanders chance to turn it around starting with 2 games against the Rangers. If at the end of the month the teams record is 15-16-5 or better the team will be in business for an exciting second half.

Leave your comments below.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

New York Islanders: Scott Gordon is Fall Guy - For Now

The Islanders fired coach Scott Gordon Monday.

I only ask one question: What difference is this going to make?

Does Jack Capuano have a magic wand that is going to heal the Islanders injury problems?

Is he going to make Rick DiPietro regain the ability to stop a puck?

Is he going to make the Islanders a puck moving goal scoring sensation?

I can give you those answers right now. No, no and no.

This may have been the most pointless firing in the history of the NHL. If the Islanders are going to go somewhere this season its not because Scott Gordon failed the team and Jack Capuano is the answer.

There is no coach short of some Al Arbour - Scotty Bowman - Dick Irvin - Toe Blake mashed together super coach that can by himself make players score more goals, play better between the pipes and play better defense.

Scott Gordon did nothing wrong except maybe set a record for coaching a team with the most man games lost to injury during his tenure.

I am so sick and tired of people saying injuries can't be used as an excuse for poor play.

When you lose 3 of your best defenseman - news flash - its going to effect your defense.

When you lose your top winger - news flash - its going to effect your offense.

When Josh Bailey and Blake Comeau suffer injuries and come back and play half the game they did then before they got hurt - news flash its going to effect your play.

When Rick DiPietro has two hip operations and three knee surgeries - news flash - its going to effect your play.

Get the point? Injuries are a part of the game this is true and as long as players get hurt their absence will effect whatever team they play for negatively.

It would serve me great pleasure for Scott Gordon to leave the Islanders with his dignity in tact and become the next Peter Laviolette.

I like Scott Gordon and I think he will be a successful coach in this league if given another opportunity. The only problem for him is it looks like he is taking the token "assistant to Garth Snow" job.

What happens if the negative trend continues and the Islanders finish at or near the bottom of the NHL again? Does Garth Snow come out un-scathed or does he follow Gordon to the unemployment line?

This reeks of desperation. This stinks of placing blame. There is no one at fault except fate and if there is some sort of evil injury fairy cursing the Islanders.

Two weeks ago the Islanders were 4-1-2 and playing excellent hockey. Now they are at the bottom of the league and looking really bad doing it.

If Scott Gordon is going to be fired for this, then if Jack Capuano does not turn the season around and the team make a run at the playoffs then Garth Snow should be fired also.

Add coaching uncertainty to the list of reasons top free agents will not consider the Islanders as a destination.

If the Islanders bomb out and Capuano joins Gordon as a "special assistant" within the organization then that creates a coaching search at the end of the season. Another black eye on the team where free agents are concerned.

This firing was pointless unless the Islanders are over .500 by new years and if that does not happen Garth Snow should follow Gordon out the door.

Place your comments below.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

New York Islanders: What the Heck Happened?

The Islanders were 4-1-2 and could have easily been 7-0 in their first seven games. Seven games later they are 4-8-2 and look like the team that the so called experts predicted we would all see.

What are the reasons the Islanders have taken a seven game nose dive? Let us examine.

1) Injuries.

Who says you cant use injuries as an excuse for losing?

This may be the most stupid, un-true sporting cliche in the history of organized sport.

So if the Indianapolis Colts are 7-0 with Peyton Manning and he gets injured and the Colts then proceed to go 0-7 without him can you blame injuries then?

What if Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Mark Tiexiera, CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte

Yes Injuries are a part of the game and all teams have them but the Islanders seem to be snake bitten and have been at the top or in the top 5 in man games to injury over the last 4 years than any team in the league.

Back to the current Islanders we are not talking about the obvious injuries to Okposo and Streit. No the ones to Andy MacDonald, Milan Jurcina, Josh Bailey and Blake Comeau.

Yes I know Comeau and Bailey are back but has anyone seen the fire in them we saw before they got hurt?

Nope. Neither have I.

It can not be overstated how much the injuries to Jurcina and MacDonald have hurt the team. Mostly because the team has had to depend on the ridiculously over-rated Radek Martinek who seems to be on the ice for every bad goal against and Bruno Gervais who you can sum up in one word - soft.

Martinek and Gervais are left overs from a time in Islanders history where all you had to do is show a little bit of talent on an awful team then that means you belong as a top 4 defenseman.

In both cases they are 6th and 7th defenseman at best and are proving it on a nightly basis.

2) Goaltending.

It was supposed to be a strong point for the team with a healthy Rick DiPietro and a solid back up in Roloson and neither has come close to expectation. I said in an earlier blog article that the biggest thing the Islanders had to do to make themselves a playoff team was improve their horriffic goals against totals froma year ago. This has not happened because of shoddy defense and bad goaltending. The Islanders sit at 29th in Goals Against.

3) Effort.

How did the team go from working hard every shift on the ice to a team that looked like it was skating with shoes on against the Flyers and Hurricanes? You can only blame the coach, but I wont place the blame entirely on the coach.

Play hard or your out has to be the team's mantra. If the team does not improve and the good thing is there is plenty of time for them to straighten it out Gordon will be fired and the team can only look inward for its lack of effort.

The good news is it is really early in the season and the Islanders have plenty of time to right the ship as they say.

Hopefully they will not dig themselves in such a big hole to get out of because playing .500 hockey the rest of the way will not get the team to the playoffs.

Post your comments below.

Monday, November 1, 2010

New York Islanders: Which Team is the Real Islanders

Is it the team that gave the best in the NHL fits or is it the team that got blown away in Philadelphia?

Is it the 4-1-2 Islanders in the first 7 games?

Or is it the 0-4 Islanders of the last 4?

Let's take a look at both side of the coin with the first glance at the 0-4 Islanders:

1) True Colors - The Islanders are young and its showing. Experience is something this team does not have short of its Captain and its something that will only be gained through one thing and thats years playing in the NHL.

2) DiPietro a shell of himself - Rick is back and apparently healthy. That's where the positives end. DP is 2-2-2 with an abysmal 3.75 GAA and an even worse .867 save percentage. Those kind of numbers would get most goaltenders drummed out of the NHL.

3) Inconsistency Kills - The first 7 games the Islanders masked their deficiencies with hard work. Without this aspect of their game more results like the 6-1 drubbing by Philadelphia will not be the last time.

Ladies and Gentlemen here is the case that the 4-1-2 Islanders are the real Islanders -

1) DP will even out - Sure Rick's numbers are sub par but as long as he remains healthy he will shake the rust off. Rick has not played with full health in almost 2 years and it will take him some time to get back to any resemblance of his former self.

As long as he remains healthy he will improve. Rick is better than this everyone knows it.

2) Defense still strong despite bad game - The Islanders defense was not good against Philadelphia. Everyone has bad games. The Red Wings have allowed 6 goals in a game from time to time. Against Montreal the Islanders ran into a buzz saw. The Habs are playing excellent hockey right now and all it will take to turn it around is one win.

3) Philly game was not nearly as bad as score indicated - Sergei Bobrovsky had an excellent game for the Flyers or the score would have been a lot closer. The Islanders probably would not have won but he made 3 or 4 saves that easily could have made the TSN highlight reels.

Which Islanders team is the real Islanders team? Leave your comments below.