When Mark Streit went down to a serious shoulder injury from what was a fluke play in practice, I think most Islander fans got that really bad feeling in them. Somehow, I knew that the immediate talk of a January return was not going to happen, and as the season went on, well, the team was pretty close-mouthed about his status. By February, it became pretty clear that he was not going to play in any games that season at all.
It was also quite telling just what Streiter’s absence from the lineup meant to the New York Islanders. The power play, even strength and even on the PK. It’ amazing how much a guy means to a team and how much you realize his value when he’s not there. Just how important Mark was to the team itself was a loss that, to me, was one of the major contributing factors to that horrible streak of losing 20 out of 22.
Despite the way guys like Travis Hamonic and Andrew MacDonald stepped up and became real bright spots for the club, not having Streit for all 82 games was a loss that very much impacted where the team finished in the standings. It might be a matter of opinion, but I think that having had Mark Streit present for, perhaps, half the games, could have given us another 6 or 10 points in the standings.
On Saturday night, with Streit in the lineup, the Islanders beat the Devils 6-2. Streit had a goal and 2 assists in the game. Was it coincidence that the power play also clicked? I think not. No, he gave the Islanders all of the little things that made him an all start two seasons ago.
Yeah, it was preseason and one game does not a season make. Nevertheless, the impact of one guy and just having him back in the lineup is something Islander Country should take heart from. What our new captain will mean to the team as the season starts and continues will, to me, be something that will be completely noticeable. I think, for example, with the addition of Brian Rolston on the point for the power play, it will really open up the ice and give the Isles threats from several areas. Just the way he handles the puck and can shoot it, Mark Streit Will Make a difference in the upcoming season. I have no doubts of that.
What does this have to do with hockey from the “blind side”? Well, to me, you don’t have to be able to see how important the presence of a guy for a team can be. You don’t need to be able to view the plays and physically see what is missing. You don’t need your television set to show you how a team performs with, compared to Without one of their key players. You just KNOW.
Having been around the game for 35 plus years, I can just FEEL it. You can sense that the rest of the guys respond to having a certain guy in the lineup. You can tell that opponents react differently as well. Suddenly, for the Isles, an important piece to the offense and defense is back, and to the opposing teams, there is a threat on the ice that was not there all of last season. You don’t need to be able to see to take all of that in throughout the course of a game.
I remember when I used to keep stats for the dek hockey team my brothers and friends played on. There were just a couple of certain guys who made all the difference in the world for our team. If they were not there, the entire team played differently. If they were there, our team reacted and played to his strengths, while our opponents now had to deal with him out there. If you play hockey or are around the game, you just understand this reality. It’s not even always tangible as far as the stat sheet either. Some guys just change the entire mindset of a team by just stepping out onto the ice for his regular shift.
So, welcome back, Mr. Streit. You were VERY Missed, and as a Islander fan, I am proud to have you as our 13th captain and, just as importantly, have you back in the lineup. Since you are also on one of my fantasy teams now, please put up all star numbers this season as well! …. All right, that was a bit selfish, but so be it. *grin*
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