Deer Park – NY When last we left one another (yes I miss you too), we were just scraping the surface on the Isles first half of this interestingly shortened season. Together we learned the team wasn’t bad at all, but the defense is atrocious. No revelations there…
To quickly reiterate the grading system we are using here it is again for you to peruse at your leisure. If you had already committed all these to memory then please forgive me for the reprinting. This is for the few who haven’t.
To first understand a grade we need to have a clear definition of what said “grade” represents, so to be simple, here is the grading system we shall use for this mid term report.
F – Fail you should be fired or in Bridgeport.
D – Disappointment, you are way below everyone’s (including) your own expectations.
C – You’re meeting expectations, you are earning your paycheck.
B – You are performing better then expected, keep it up!
A – We owe you an apology for not having high enough expectations of you, you have shined, and outperformed everyone’s expectations of you. Congrats ! Time for a reevaluation …
Well enough about the present lets look at the past. This year’s first half to be precise of your New York Islanders. The ups, the downs, the mediocre, the outstanding, it has been one of the more interesting 26 games in recent history, one of hope and despair. Which is an improvement, you see as an Islander fan we are used to taking the bad with the bad, at least this season there has been their share of good. Yielding us : 11-12-3 25 pts 10th place just 3 points out of a playoff spot.
Today we shall evaluate the first half performances of the special teams and forwards. Part 3 (Friday) shall be defensemen, goalies, coaches, and the feelings on the remainder of the season.
Special Teams: PK
The Penalty Kill has definitely tapered off from it’s torrid start earlier in the season. It has gone from the strongest aspect of our team to well below average. The Isles are 17th in the league operating at an 80.2 % kill rate.
The bottom line with any teams PK is this. It’s 4-3 Isles 4:21 to go in the 3rd stanza, and we just went down a man. How do you feel (besides pissed at Van Hellemond) about our chances at killing off the penalty? (Of course the Grabner injury not withstanding because this is “look back”).
To get my opinion on this is as worthless as yesterday’s newspaper to be honest with you because I always feel “of course we are going to kill it off” which is why I asked you. In reality my gut would still feel surprised, and disappointed if the game were tied on this hypothetical power play.
I was surprised to find that we had slipped all the way to 17th in the league even though our PK looked like a fine aged cheese versus the Pens the other night. Stats don’t lie , but I feel our PK for the most part has been well “not disappointing” C+
The Islander power play has been thus far as the youth of today would say “The Bomb”. However since I am no longer a member of the youth of today, and are 15 years removed from being eligible to be on the Real World I shall simply call it Mint! But I digress…
The power play is humming at 23% efficiency good for 7th in the NHL. You might say 7th? That’s not that awesome? Well perhaps, but one must also take into account that the Isles have yet to let up a short hander this year, which is a testament to their discipline. For Example the Caps Power play is ranked 3rd at 25%, but have yielded 4 short handers. Whom would you rather be?
The power play has been so important that our record in games where we do not have a goal on the power play is 2-13. With both wins coming in shoot outs mind you. For example, during the first 4 games of our dreadful 5 game losing streak the power play went 0-22. The results are obvious. Our Power play is directly linked to our success as a team. Has there ever been a goal more reminiscent of EA NHL ’94 tap the “C” button one timer then this one?
#91 John Tavares “Jonny Franchise” 16-13-29 with 26/26 games played.
This young man (and I love writing this next part) only 22 years of age has been as advertised. He is leading the team in scoring again, and power play goals with 7. He is tied for 10th in the NHL in scoring. His role, and his leadership on the ice speak to the greatness that is JT today, and that is to come.
However he is a -8 and only winning 47.8% of his face offs, both need improving. His 7 power play tallies tie his season total of last year.
Just how important is John Tavares? In the Games when he doesn’t register a point the Isles are 1-10. The 1 being the shoot out win VS Ottawa you remember that one, don’t you ? In games when JT does register a point the Isles are 10-5. How he goes… We go!
In the 42% of our games when he does not register a point our winning percentage drops to 9%. In the 58% of our games that he does register a point our winning percentage climbs to 66%… Like I said I’m not a stats guy…
C+ yes a cruel grade for someone so good, but he has only slightly exceed my expectations of him and the -8 and 11 pointless games can be improved upon.
# 51 Frans Nielsen: 3-10-13 with 26/26 games played.
I guess after all these years now we know what we are going to get from Frans. Well you get what you get and you don’t get upset.
However I can remember talk of him someday being a Selki Trophy winner one day. He is a -7 on the year, with an abysmal 43.1 face off winning %.
True his line with Josh Bailey, and Kyle Okposo have been better of late, but overall his play has regressed thus far this season.
D Just keepin it warm for Ryan Strome.
#16 Marty Reasoner: 0-4-4 with 21/26 games played.
A two year stop gap measure who has met low expectations. He is a -3 on the season, winning 52.7 % of his face offs. He gives effort, but is on the ice in far too many important situations for a player of his caliber.
He is a modern day salary floor player making 1.35 million, and is a UFA after this season.
C – Little expected, little received. Brock Nelson anyone?
#10 Keith Aucoin: 4-2-6 with 19/26 games played.
Aucoin is a Garth Snow waiver wire special. He has been scratched the last 4 games after a nice start early to the season. In reality he is a fill in player who when called upon has been serviceable.
C Cant say I’m disappointed nor impressed.
#53 Casey Cizakis 3-7-10 with 21/26 games played.
He won’t be a healthy scratch anymore I can assure you! He leads the Isles centers with a +1 rating, and with a 54.8 face off %.
Cizikas is only 22, but plays like a cagey veteran out there often giving us the spark we desperately need. Good hands and very strong along the boards, he is the type of player every good team needs to win.
Cizikas is becoming a well rounded 2-way center man for the Isles. His 4th line is arguably at times the Isles best. He is getting better and better as the season goes on, and it is obvious that he is to be an important Gog as the team enters Brooklyn in 2015.
A – The sky is the limit for what will be an excellent 3rd line center man for years to come. Isles will have JT, Strome, and Cizikas right down the middle for a decade!
#26 Matt Moulson 11-16-27 with 26/26 played.
What is not to love about Matt Moulson? He plays every night. I mean he plays every night, hasn’t missed a game as an Islander. His point totals have gone up every year since he is an Islander. This season averaging more then a point per game. He is tied for 2nd in the league with 7 power play goals. He is a sniper!
A He is a perennial all star
#24 Brad Boyes 6-15-21 with 6/26 games played
I have got to admit Boyes has won me over. When he was first moved up to the first line I was not happy, but he has proven me wrong. He belongs on that line and he compliments JT, and Matt Moulson quite nicely.
He too can sniper it often removing a net minders hydration supply. Boyes is deceptively strong on his skates, and not afraid to go into the high traffic area in the crease. He has seemingly found his game that has in the past yielded him 40 goal 70+ point seasons in the past.
A – Dear Garth Snow please sign Brad Boyes he’s better then P.A. Parenteau .
#21 Kyle Okposo 2-7-9 with 26/26 games played.
Disgusting numbers. And a -8 to boot. Who is Kyle Okposo? Is he the power forward with good hands and a nose for the net? Or is he the more often then not Zamboni on his back, weak on his skates, stone hands, no show?
Next month he will be 25 years old and should be much further along in his career. This is the second season of regression in a row, and now the word “bust” has to enter the conversation. I like him, and there is no way Snow should trade him now with him being not 25. His stock at an all time low. But to start the season on the line with JT, and Matt Moulson, and still not produce? RED FLAG !
His play has much improved as of late, and he needs to have a very strong final 22 games of the year, cause if not his days in the orange and blue just simply have to be numbered.
D- Mostly bad.
#12 Josh Bailey 2-5-7 with 16/26 games played.
Now he did miss the first 10 of the season with a knee issue, and is recently starting to seem as though he is back to game shape. His play has improved the last 5 games, and has started to register on the score sheet regularly. The jury is still out on Bailey, and along with him a huge part of Snow’s tenure.
He is however still only 23 years old, and has shown periods where he looks like a very good hockey player. This first half is tuff to grade because how many nights was he just getting back into things from the injury? The next 22 will show who the real Josh Bailey is. I’m hoping he is an important Gog heading to Brooklyn.
C He gets a pass this half, but won’t next 22.
# 40 Michael Grabner 10-3-13 with 26/26 games played.
I can’t believe Grabner has only 13 points?? Either he’s a terrible passer, or he isn’t truly benefiting from the play of his line mates.
I swear Grabs has got to look at Jack Capuano at times and say what did I do to be banished to what is clearly the teams worst line? Ahhh the Strome, Nelson era truly can not come fast enough.. It’s ok Grabs we’ll say it for you.
Grabner is by far the team’s best penalty killer, and fastest skater. He is dynamic and very exciting to watch night in and night out. Still only 25, he is a very important Cog as we move to Brooklyn.
Unfortunately Grabner suffered a shoulder injury and will miss what appears to be the next 8-12 games which in a 48 game season is a lot. The team will have a next to impossible time filling his shoes and it’ll be interesting to see if we are still in contention upon his return?
B- Better then his number say, and more important.
# 41 David Ullstrom 2-3-5 with 19/26 games played.
David was as of Monday sent down to Bridgeport, but recalled yesterday due to the Grabner injury.
This kid has all the talent in the world. Size, speed, hands, strength. He just has to put it all together, and do a better job back checking. On occasion his lack of detail in our own zone has left him in Cappy’s doghouse. His playing time is near the bottom for regular forwards and sees no time on either specialty unit.
He is just 23 years old, and is 6’2 215 with speed to burn. Weather he puts it all together, and becomes that player that his talent can dictate is still a long way off from being answered. He does show flashes at times, but is at times lost on the ice as well. Most importantly he does have the “Great Gazoo” type helmut, so just that alone has me rooting for this kid!
C- In a word “potential”
#32 Eric Boulton 0-0-0 with 8/26 games played.
He’s 1-1 in fights, and….
D- Stupid salary floor !
#13 Colin McDonald 4-6-10 with 24/26 games played.
McDonald has been a nice player, not taking the body as much as he was early on. However is a nice complement on that 4th line, and does have a lot of chemistry with Cizikas, and Martin. A lifetime minor leaguer truly making the most of his opportunity in the NHL.
B Nice surprise.
#17 Matt Martin 2-2-4 with 26/26 played.
Can’t say enough about this kid. He plays the game the way it was meant to be played. And I’m telling everyone who will listen and those who don’t he can score 20-30 every year, he has the hands, and the will to do so.
Martin leads the NHL in hits thus far with 128, and is now finally getting some time on the power play second unit.
Still only 23 years of age, he deserves an “A” on his jersey, and is hands down my favorite player on this team. He is our heart and soul, and when this team turns it around it will be Matt Martin leading the way right next to JT!
A + LOVE THIS KID !!
In Hypothesis: The forwards talent is so unbalanced it is yielding us a team that at times is looking bound for the post season, while simultaneously appearing as though the draft party will be in full Ferris Wheel swing this early summer at the Coliseum. To describe this team’s forwards first half performance could best be summed up in one word oxymoronic.
Attempting to capture the Spirit of the Thing…
P.S. Have a Nice Day !!
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Tags: Brad Boyes Casey Cizikas Colin Mcdonald David Ullstrom Eric Boulton Frans Nielsen Garth Snow HOCKEY Islanders Jack Capuano John Tavares Josh Bailey Kyle Okposo Marty Reasoner Matt Moulson Michael Grabner New York Islanders NHL