Hockey From The Blind Side, Catching Up With My Blind Observations
By John Panarese
As first as a personal note, my current apologies and a preemptive apology for my infrequent posting here. I have a bunch of things going on at the moment, which includes preparing for my Apple Certified Support Professional exam for Mac OS X Lion. So, time has added up to be an issue, and will probably be the case for the next two or three weeks. However, I will, of course, do my best to “bother” you all with my thoughts and opinions as much as I can.
Sometimes, this team is simply an enigma to me. I just can’t figure it out. The hockey Gods have been rather kind to the Islanders as far as giving them enough slack to still remain in the playoff picture. They have been as close as 6 points back, and timely wins and a nice little roll could have really enabled them to make some noise.
Yet, somehow, this team has not been able to win the games that count. Two Eastern Conference opponents they should have and HAD to beat, and, instead, they were embarrassed in one game and out worked in the other.
Fortunately, I couldn’t catch any of Monday afternoon’s disaster, but I did catch most of last night’s game. It baffles me that this team also cannot score goals. I didn’t believe offense would be a significant problem at the start of the season, but the Islanders are 28 out of 30 teams in overall offense for the campaign.
So, at the moment, the Isles are back to being 2 games under the .500 mark. As I had said in earlier posts, to me, achieving the .500 mark would be a big “victory” for them, regardless of where they fell in the standings in April. Respectability, to me, is an important outcome for the season and the rebuild, and finishing over the .500 mark would establish some bit of credibility for them.
Of course, there is still 22 games to go, and reaching the .500 level is not out of the question by any means. However, these 4 points squandered Monday and Tuesday might be points that we all can look back on as being the “death nail” for playoff hopes. The Islanders couldn’t afford to end up with 0 points from those games at this stage in the season.
So, in no order or priority, here are some of my “blind observations” that come to mind. These are pretty much a “catch” up over recent games and will not apply to any specific effort, other than last night’s game;
• 130 goals for as a team at this point is a serious let down. This is a team that had potential to score a lot more goals, and the lack of secondary scoring has truly risen to bite them in the backside. I believe they have been shut out 10 times this season, an inexcusable number.
• Matt Martin cannot do it alone. The Islanders need toughness. All too many times, guys are getting cheep shotted and there has been little response. I’m sorry, but I believe in an eye for an eye when it comes to hockey, and teams are taking advantage of the fact that Martin is the only guy who will answer the bell. Whether it’s Haley or someone else, Matt Martin needs support and this team needs grit and a bit of piss and vinegar in their game.
• PA Parenteau needs to be signed. You cannot let a guy with his talent walk, nor should or can the Islanders afford to trade him. Whether he has played on the top line or not, he has produced consistently. His value to this team has earned him a contract long term on the island.
• You can’t wait until the closing minutes in a game to decide to play. Too many times, the Isles seem to find life when it’s all too late to make a difference. Yes, Moulson was stoned by Ryan Miller after receiving a beautiful pass from JT, but that game was winnable and the Islanders should not have put themselves in a position in which desertion was required to tie it.
• I’ve asked this question a time or two before. Is it lack of leadership on the ice or is it the coaching? Monday afternoon’s game was an example of an effort that a team fighting for a playoff spot should not demonstrate. You can’t take a game off at this stage in the season. Inconsistency is not acceptable. Something is missing in which the desperation to win is absent from TOO MANY efforts.
• Should Nabokov be signed? If he is willing to stay, I believe keeping him would be an intelligent and necessary action. I am an Al Montoya fan, but he has not stepped up like he had in the past. DP’s future is all too cloudy, and keeping Nabokov will only help the Islanders right now.
• Who should be traded or should the Isles be sellers? I am not one who believes in quitting. I know most folks have written the Isles off and feel they should unload anyone they can. To me, I firstly don’t know what value the roster has as far as tradable guys goes. I would imagine only draft picks would be all they might garner at this point. It would not surprise me to see trades, yet it also would not shock me if Garth Snow made no moves by Monday.;
• What happened to the Gremlin? It is a mystery to me that Michael Grabner has not looked anything like he did last season. Yes, he has shown flashes, and 15 goals is not “terrible”. Yet, there is an aspect missing from his game, and the excitement and expectation that was felt any time he had the puck last season has been virtually absent this season.
• Kevin Poulin is potentially the future goaltender for this franchise. Despite Monday, let’s not forget he is only 21 years old. He is being given a lot of responsibility, and when your team doesn’t play in front of you, it only makes your job much more difficult.
• Patrick Flatley between the benches is a great addition to the game. It’s too bad he can’t be there for every game. A lot of teams use a third guy on the broadcast, and Flats does a great job.
The Rangers come to the NVMC on Friday. Will we see Nabokov back? It will be interesting to see what Islander team take the ice against their “arch rivals”. Anything less than guns a blazing will be disgraceful.
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