New York Islanders Coach Took to the Media to Try and Get His Player’s Attention.
After calling out his team for lack of effort New York Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano has his team running on all cylinders as the regular season closes out. Wins over the President Trophy winning Washington Capitals, Tampa Bay Lightning and borough rivals New York Rangers confirmed the Islanders participation in the post-season.
Coach Jack Capuano is regarded as a straight shooter when it comes to interacting with the media. He isn’t one to shy away from a question nor does he try to hide the truth. But calling out his players is something that he rarely does.
But a day after losing 5-0 to divisional rivals Pittsburgh Penguins Capuano took to the media to single out the play of Josh Bailey, Brock Nelson and Ryan Strome.
“We need Strome to be better. We need Brock to be better. We need Bailey to be better. We need guys to be better if we’re going to have any chance at all” are some of the tamer words that Capuano used to describe his player’s recent performances.
The Isles were fresh off a three game winning streak before the Penguins embarrassed them on home ice at the Barclay’s Centre. Losing 5-0 to a divisional rival, failing on 5 power-play attempts and posting a 33% PK was good enough for coach Capuano to address the media.
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But did coach Capuano’s words actually have the intended effect? Have Bailey, Nelson or Strome played better down the stretch?
Follow the Leader
Over the last four games after the loss to Pittsburgh the singled-out trio have recorded all but four points. Nelson had a point against both the New York Rangers and against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Strome had a big night against the Washington Capitals notching two points. That’s it.
Over the same period Bailey, Nelson and Strome had a Corsi differential of -20, -19 and -3, respectively. Meaning they were a net negative when it came to possession for their team over that four game span.
Neither have really been any better since being called out by their coach. Thankfully for the Islanders that over the same period, captain John Tavares has put up nine points (4G, 5A).
We often hear that a captain has to lead by example. The captain doesn’t always need to be the loudest with their words, their actions can do all the talking.
But in Tavares’ case both are speaking loud and clear.
Immediately after the 5-0 loss to the Penguins Tavares had some tough words for his teammates: “Everyone has to look themselves in the mirror and ask themselves how much they want it.”
He then followed that up by scoring in the next four games and setting up another 5 points, meaning he had a direct impact on just under 60% of the Islanders goals in that stretch.
The Islanders have been fortunate to get secondary scoring from throughout the lineup. Rather than being entirely reliant on John Tavares. But going into the post season 60% of the offence can’t come from a single source. Shutting down a single player during the post season is common practice.
Bailey, Strome and Nelson need to pick up their play. The level of production from the three going down the stretch into the post-season needs to improve.
In the event that it doesn’t Capuano has lost his ability to call them out. Or rather, he knows it won’t necessarily work. So doing it again would just serve as an irritant and defeat what the coach is trying to achieve. Which is to push his players to care. Repeatedly ostracizing them publicly won’t give you that effect. A coach has one chance to play that card.
The Appeal of a New “Season”
The Stanley Cup Playoffs are entirely different from the regular season. What happened in the regular season can be tossed out the window once the playoffs start. It a fresh start in an entirely new season.
That’s the hope at least for Bailey, Nelson and Strome.
Every professional hockey player wants to be competing for the Stanley Cup. Players find a second gear when it comes to the playoffs. Capuano shouldn’t have to worry about resorting to throwing his players under the media bus in order to get their attention.
Worst case scenario though, John Tavares puts up another eight points.