With all that has gone wrong with the New York Islanders in the first quarter of this season, it is important to take a clinical approach to identifying the problem.
In the medical field, boiling down a multitude of symptoms is called a differential diagnosis. It is in that spirit that I hope to boil down the New York Islanders ‘symptoms’ to the one disease at the root of it all.
To diagnose the New York Islanders we have to come up with a comprehensive list of clearly delineated symptoms. Generally, I find that most complaints I have that are echoed on social media are questionable signings, poor player usage, poor player development, and a continued drop in possession statistics.
Andrew Ladd and Jason Chimera have not performed at a rate commensurate with the expectations for them as replacements for Frans Nielsen and Kyle Okposo. Initially, Ladd and Chimera struck me as players that would fit into the kind of game Jack Capuano wants to play, but thus far they have not.
Night to night, who sits, who plays, and who is on a line with who is anyone’s guess. There are still three goalies on the roster. One of whom has yet to take the ice. The most egregious symptom in this category, however, is that John Tavares continues to play between a known quantity in Josh Bailey (aka not a top line wing) and a revolving door of other less talented wingers.
Of the three forwards we hoped would take the next step to help carry the load, only Brock Nelson has done anything while Ryan Strome and Anders Lee lag woefully behind. Thankfully Matthew Barzal is showing no ill effects from his press box hiatus from playing hockey. My favorite in this category remains the healthy scratch of Josh Ho-Sang for not skating straight lines.
However you like to measure it – Corsi, Fenwick, PDO, etc. – Islanders possession stats are down for the second straight season. The million dollar question is “Why?” System? Better opposition? Or just unlucky? Either way, they’re regularly outshot by their opposition.
I have seen the Islanders woes attributed to the players, the coach, and the GM. While it would be easy to say that Ladd and Chimera not panning out is what is driving this team down, literally everyone is having a down year this year.
All these symptoms suggest to me that the underlying disease is more systemic, most likely stemming from somewhere in management. I think Capuano and Snow should both share the blame.
Capuano is to blame for not being able to formulate a better plan than dump and chase night in and night out. Snow is to blame for not articulating a better game plan for the supposed talent he has drafted and at this point for sticking with Capuano as long as he had. Our only hope is that the new ownership can find a cure for the Islanders in the near future.