The New York Islanders fell 4-3 last night in Ottawa. In a must-win game the Isles no-showed dropping their fifth straight game.
I’ll be 50 this year.
That means I was there during the pre and post dynasty years; there during the “Islanders II” era in 1988 when the likes of Brad Lauer were to be our salvation; there when Spano deceived; there when Mad Mike set back the organization for decades, and there when Trotz and Lou magically transformed this team.
But through all the non-sensical Islanders history, this season has the potential to be our greatest disappointment.
The reasons we fell in love with this team are consistent with the traits New Yorkers love about any of their sports teams.
Determined, resilient, relentless.
All of these characteristics defined the 2018-2019 New York Islanders.
Last night in Ottawa confirmed that the special sauce that made this club so challenging to play against has soured in 2020.
And Barry Trotz’s post-game presser only confirmed that he’s out of ideas.
It’s on the players, and the players appear to have checked out.
Aside from the first line, it appears that every forward on this team has something more important going on in their lives that are making winning secondary. And unfortunately, should our nightmare scenario come to fruition, it means that a real ‘re-build’ is in order.
Here are the obscenely guilty:
Bailey is an original Islander who has endured more fan hate over the past 12 years than any player ever should. I’ve been a staunch defender. But his game has deteriorated to the point that he is a real liability every time he’s on the ice.
In 15 minutes of play, Bailey was a minus three. Although credited with only one turnover on the stat sheet, his miscues were directly responsible for Boedker’s shortie and Duclair’s goal to give Ottawa the lead. He has consistently lost every one on one battle for over a month now. That’s not about skill. It’s about effort. And Bailey’s on-ice energy has been abysmal.
From the get-go, Brassard has been a round peg in a square hole. Obtained to fill the 3rd line center role, Brassard proved early on that he was not up to the task. The former Ranger shows his frustration on every missed scoring opportunity, and more often than not, it makes him arrive late in defensive transition. He was marginally effective in Ottawa. But his miss on an open net late in the third was a dagger that further deflated the Isles comeback.
Bad Brock! Nelson had four real scoring opportunities last night. In his previous five games, Nelson is a minus seven and under 50% in the face-off circle. Last night he had key face-off losses in the offensive zone that stymied any surge. He’s got a great shot. He has excellent hands. When he’s driving to the net, he is as effective as any center in the league. But that part of his game has disappeared… again.
Level, quiet, mercurial, he fooled us last year. We thought inconsistency was a thing of the past—shame on you Bad Brock.
Who kidnapped the real Tito? Islander fans want to know.
Great teams build from the net out. As fans were all left in the dark about why Robin Lehner was let go. We reluctantly trusted in Lou on that decision. But after a season of Varlamov, we can see the knocks that have followed him his whole career are warranted. And they haven’t been remedied by Korn and Greco. He can almost always be counted on to let one in that ‘he would have liked back.’
Great goaltending inspired this team last season. That critical component is gone.
I won’t bother criticizing MDC, Matty Marts, a clearly still injury affected Cal Clutterbuck or newly acquired JP Pageau (who is a minus six since arrival and might have considered putting a stick or shoulder on Duclair during his rush down the wing).
And I won’t bash the defense, although Pulock’s turnover to the point on Boedker’s goal was the stuff that squirts players get benched for.
However, all of these guys have value. And should the Isles miss the playoffs, all need to be considered tradable assets to restock the draft pool.
Hold your breath Islander fans. Unless they prove us wrong on Saturday against Carolina. Here we go again…
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P.S. To Ledecky and Malkin, the STH ‘offer’ with a deadline of March 8th smelled of desperation. This season ticket holder is seriously reconsidering next year’s investment.