Eyes on Isles Presents: The Deke Squad — Episode 1
By Rich Dias-Rodrigues
Welcome to the Deke Squad.
Rich Dias-Rodrigues and Chris Triantafilis take a week’s worth of social media conversation, as well as in-house blathering, and bring it altogether for you, the reader.
Be sure to leave a comment below, as the point of it all is to organize a place for hockey fans, especially Islander ones, to come and have an intelligent discussion.
How it works: One question. One screen. One poll. Click ‘Next’.
Three in total.
This week’s topics:
- The Sochi Syndrome
- Andrew MacDonald
- Ryan Strome
Jan 1, 2014; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs players Phil Kessel (left) and James van Riemsdyk (right) are introduced as members of the U.S. Olympic hockey team after the 2014 Winter Classic hockey game against the Detroit Red Wings at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Will the February hiatus hurt or help teams who’ve recently found themselves on a momentum uptick? Is it a case of much-needed rest for the remaining three-month push to follow, or will the iron cool and disrupt the order of things?
CT: It could hurt. Good teams are good teams, but hot teams that are making a push for those final playoff seeds can be adversely affected. If the Olympic break started tomorrow, I’d be unhappy as an Islanders fan, for example. After a terrible start to the season, the Islanders are getting hot, and you never know how they will respond afterwards. Sure, rest is good, but you don’t really want to interrupt a team that is in the zone.
RDR: But couldn’t we say that for all the teams out there? Think of it as a truncated season all over again. Or, for dramatic effect, let’s call it the “Sochi Syndrome” because, what’s an article without some alliteration.
But I’ll say this much, Chris. I’m of the belief that if you’re on a roll, don’t stop. But if you take a look at the Islanders roster, one that is riddled with injury in key areas, this hiatus will benefit them.
Understanding full-well that what we’re doing here is speculative at best, I’ll take it a step further: I almost think that snubbing Kyle Okposo may benefit him and the team.
CT: Really?! All that fuss…
RDR: Now don’t cringe, because as you well know, I was incredibly irate to find Okposo off the USA roster, but now that John Tavares and Thomas Vanek are heading to Sochi, the Isles’s top line will be taxed heavily. With Okposo at home, we should expect a fully-rested and eager top line winger hungry for some ice time come late February.
Vanek is sure to see an early exit from Sochi, as he, Michael Grabner and Team Austria aren’t poised to do much after the Round Robin stage.
But Tavares and Team Canada are certainly constructed to reach the medal round. And as compacted as the schedule will be, the Islanders’ star player will have little in the way of downtime.
So, will it hurt Tavares and other NHLers? Not really. Because they’ll continue their surges, but just on a different stage.
Again, just being purely speculative, right: but I don’t believe it’ll hurt guys like Okposo and one Travis Hamonic, who could benefit from some healing.
I know that Okposo is known to be streaky, but he’s shown himself to be anything but this season.
What do you think?
CT: At this juncture, time to get healthy is definitely a positive, but whether players get healthy in time for a playoff push depends where Isles are in the standings when the injured regain their health.
Now, can the break set-off Kyle? I think he’s already been set. Kyle’s playing the best hockey of his career. If it drives him to be even better, then the Isles have one superstar line.