NY Islanders News

Season ends on loss – but many positives to come

By Gary Harding
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It is always tough to see the last game go down – especially when you know that the second season is not in your team’s plans.  For Islander nation, we live the fourth consecutive season of just 82 games played.  But – with the lack of playoffs, this season, is one to look at the serious positive signs that are ever present.

1.  Coaching – Jack Capuano has stepped up and done a great job with these guys.  After a slow beginning, this team ended up as one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference in the second half of the season.  He has still some growth, but defintely deserves another year plus to make the transformation happen.

2. Scoring options – The emergence of Michael Grabner gives this team more options than before.  Blake Comeau has stepped up his game as well.  And who can forget PA Parenteau?  With John Tavares and Matt Moulson – this is almost two complete scoring lines.  Frans Nielsen can also do a great job offensively, especially on the PK.  Josh Bailey is moulding his game to a new dimension, as well as Kyle Okposo.  With Nino Niederreiter on the horizon – this is a good YOUNG offense that can only get stronger.

3.  Return to health.  Another year leading the league in man games lost (by a WIDE MARGAIN).  This team needs a healthy goddest to bless these guys next season.  Having folks like Streit, Eaton and Mottau at FULL strength, along with a full year of guys like Jurcina, Okposo and MacDonald – that makes a stronger team.

4.  More youth.  Names like MacDonald, Hamonic, Niederreiter, DeHaan, among others, to enter the fray for 2011-12.  A lot of these guys, especially MacDonald and Hamonic have received their baptism by fire this season.  The other guys will get their chance in October.  Not a lot of spots on this team are guaranteed, so camp should be interesting to say the least.

5.  Goaltending.  The saga continues, with the Montoya/DiPietro tandem at the top.  I just hope that Ricky gets a chance to have a summer of health and conditioning to have him at 100% in October.  He has no excuses anymore.  There are going to be guys like Poulin, Koskinen among others ready to go. To be fair – Mr. DiPietro needs to be extremely concerned about his future, with guys behind him ready to go.

6.  Experience.  This team will need to have some experienced forwards  and free agency may be an interesting time to see what guys may be available.  Eyes on Isles will talk about this as the summer approaches.

As I said at the beginning of the season, if this team stayed healthy, I really thought an eighth place spot was theirs for the taking.  The injury bug, and the slow start killed that dream, but with the way this team progressed, I really think that 2011-12 will be a good year on Long Island.

During the next few weeks, we (John and I) will review the season, look at the players in detail and give our report cards on each of them.  We will look into the draft, and see what is available for the Isles at the “X” position that they will draft in.  We will also look at free agency and what can be gotten.

Stay tuned to Eyes on Isles, for anything Islander related during the off season.

And by the way – I am now a Vancouver Canuck fan – — this was my second team for years, and I really think that this is FINALLY their year!

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