Hockey From The Blind Side, Simply Stupefied
By John Panarese
It has been said in a number of places that this 4 game road trip would make or break the New York Islanders. Basically, if they could, somehow, come out of it with 6 or more points, they would demonstrate that a serious playoff run was still possible.
Unfortunately, the Isles have earned a single point with one last game to go in Boston. Once again, yes, I am utterly stupefied by the inconsistent performances this team produces.
Are they still not at a point in which they can handle high pressure games? Is it a leadership problem? Is it a coaching issue? Is it a lack of confidence? Is the rebuild still farther away from showing results than, perhaps, I believed?
It seems that I ask the same questions. Additionally, I don’t have any more answers. I just don’t get it at this point in the season. Maybe, I just had my sights set a little too high for what this team is ready for.
Nevertheless, the reality is the Islanders are now 9 points back of the 8 spot, and miracles are seeming even beyond the type the New York Mets pulled out in 1969. The proverbial fat lady, I’m afraid, is warming up in the wings. I do not like to think the negative and feel that there is always hope, but the effort and desire often is not there at times it simply SHOULD be.
Here are some “blind observations” or random thoughts that crossed my mind over the last few games. As usual, they are in no particular order and are, as always, my opinions;
• It is interesting that Josh Bailey has scored 3 goals in his last 2 games. In the past, when he was moved to the wing, his offensive production increased substantially. Thus, I am not surprised that he has found the twine of late, now playing on a wing with Frans Nielsen centering his line.
• In regard to the game in Washington on Tuesday, 56 minutes of great hockey just doesn’t cut it. You have to close the deal. That was an easy 2 points the Isles should have nailed down. Remember Al Arbour’s “killer instinct” philosophy.
• The Islanders just can’t seem to get all of the pieces to work at once. They either get unbelievable performances from the top line, badly needed secondary scoring, solid defense or great goaltending. However, it just doesn’t seem like all of these ingredients are mixed into the pot at once.
• After all of the trade deadline build up, the fact still remains, PA Parenteau needs to be signed here long term, and Evgeni Nabokov should be convinced to stay. yeah, Nabokov didn’t play his best game last night, but the load has solidly been thrust upon his shoulders for the time being.
• Offense, offense, my kingdom for consistent offense. What happened to the team that had 5 20 plus goal scorers and 2 30 plus goal scorers?
• All the playoff talk aside, a finish below 80 points is unacceptable. To me, this is plain and simple. In order to move forward, progress needs to be shown.
• On a strictly personal, fantasy note, if Nassau County doesn’t want them, someone in Suffolk County better be getting off their behinds to make the Isles an offer. God, would a 10 or 15 minute drive to games be awesome!
Next up is the a trip into Boston. Perhaps, the effort can be turned around and the Islanders can pull out a shocker. After that, it’s the Devils on Sunday, so it will be interesting to see who will get the start in net this weekend on each day.
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