New York Islanders Mid Season Report
Team: New York Islanders
Place in Conference: 12th
Injured Players: Garth Snow, 3-4 weeks, MCL sprain in each knee
Rick Dipietro, day to day, knee sprain
Jason Blake, day to day, bruised ribs
Brad Lukowich, day to day, bruised ribs
Petteri Nokelainen, injure reserve, patella tendonitis
Team Point Leader: Alexei Yashin 15-23-38
Current Situation: The Islanders started the season going from a loss, to a win, to a loss, to another win but as of late, they have gone from two or three losses, to two or three wins and then repeating the pattern. They have no consistency but those of you who are brave enough to read more about it can do so in the Weakness section.
Strengths: I spent a lot of time thinking of the answer to this question and to be quite honest the only strength I (and other Islander fans) could think of was that they have a handful of players that go to the net and cause some trouble for opposing goaltenders. However, they just can’t the puck to those guys so there you have it, yet another weakness….getting the puck to the net.
Weaknesses: I really don’t know where to begin as far as weaknesses go because there are just too many. I guess I’ll start with Head Coach Steve Stirling. In my estimation, he does not belong anywhere near an NHL team. He has no strategies whatsoever, unless you call benching your so called “star players” and changing line combinations more than you change your underwear, strategic.
The Islanders’ next weakness has got to be its inconsistency. For example, they’ll play a terrific first period and then collapse for the last two, or they’ll play horribly for the first two periods and then step it up in the third when it’s too late. They will not win hockey games if they don’t put in the effort. Hockey games are 60 minutes long, I just wish someone would remind the Islanders that.
Another weakness that the Islanders’ posses, regards their penalty kill. In November their PK unit was ranked 10th in the NHL, now they are ranked 24th.
Yet another weakness that the Islanders possess is goaltending. I have not been very impressed with DiPietro so far this year. Now I know that he has no defense in front of him but I have noticed him going down way too early on breakaways allowing easy goals for the opposition. Garth Snow has been solid when given the chance and It is unfortunate that he got injured when he did because I think he would have jump started the team. When both goalies get healthy, I pray to the hockey god that Stirling (or his replacement, hint, hint Milbury) plays him more. DiPietro can’t play more than 10 games straight.
The last weakness that I feel like writing about (this is making me real sick haha) is the third period collapses. Before their game in Buffalo right before Thanksgiving, the Islanders had not blown a third period lead since 2003. Since that loss to Buffalo, the Islanders can’t hold a third period lead to save their lives. That needs to end if they expect to salvage this season.
Needs: First and foremost, the Islanders need a head coach (see above for a few of the reasons why). Next, they need a stay at home defenseman. They have the potential to score goals and I believe that if they get a new coach he will light a fire under their butts and the goals will come. With that said, they need offense as well, but that needs to come from inspiration and desire, qualities that a decent coach can bring out in almost any player.
Expectations: I really don’t know what to expect out of this team. They can turn things around in a heartbeat if they try but then again, things can just as well get worse. Milbury needs to shake this team up somehow. He just traded Niinimaa, but in my estimation that freed up cap space is worthless unless he uses it to the teams advantage and makes another move soon. You’ll know where the team is headed by the Olympic Break. If they haven’t turned things around by then, the playoffs will be a distant memory.