Hockey from the Blind Side, No Panic Button, but Change is Needed ….. NOW

Panic, as far as I am concerned, is not a productive nor intelligent state of mind. When one panics, one tends to do things without thinking and, thus, one often regrets those actions after the fact. There is no reason or rationality when one panics, and it is more instinct and automatic than intellectual or calculating.

At this stage of the season, 8 games under the .500 mark and some 9 points out of a playoff position, the New York Islanders find themselves in a situation very few of us would have or could have pictured being the case in December. In many ways, gentle readers, the season could be “over” by the New Year if Something isn’t done and done Soon. That is the sad and stark reality of the season. In fact, I venture to say that the last four games of this western swing could truly destroy the season or help have a chance at reviving the patient.

How we got here and why we got here is something that has been written about and discussed all over the internet. I just spent the morning taking a look at what many other folks are saying, and it is far from a pretty picture if you are a fan of the New York Islanders hockey club.

What needs to be done? What Can be done? What is Being done? These are all questions that many folks have been quick to offer opinions about. Just take a look around with a quick Google search and you can read all about it yourself.As I said, many people have written a lot of words on the subject of the woes of this team. I am not going to completely reinvent the wheel, but I am going to address a few points that have been very common themes voiced by the fan base and my fellow bloggers and writers out there. Of course, these are my opinions and, thus, are neither more “right” nor “wrong” than those thoughts of others. I am, again, a technology trainer and not a hockey GM or coach, so take the following as you might:

• a coaching change. I have often said that I am not one who likes to see people lose their jobs. Particularly when it is a good person who doesn’t necessarily deserve to be fired, it pains me more to witness it. Unfortunately, though, Something needs to be done to shake up this team. Perhaps, it is time for a change and bringing in someone else who might be able to get some emotion and passion from the team. To me, regardless of what is said by the players, there is a disconnect between the system and execution of that system. Jack Capuano, of course, can only work with what he has, but if the team has emotionally quit him, there is no lineup or screaming that will fix that problem.

• Ownership/the General Manager. Enough said about this very beaten topic. Neither ownership nor Garth Snow is sitting idly by just letting things happen. You can take all the shots at decisions that have been made and what “should have” been done here and there. These guys want to win as much as any fan. It is a business, and you make money in this business by winning games and having fans spending money to see games. Thus, if you want to jump up and down with anger and frustration or dissect every draft and every trade and every contract, go right ahead. Opinions are like a certain part of the human body everyone has on their posteriors. You know the rest of that expression ….

If you don’t think Garth Snow is out there trying to make a deal to address the team’s problems, you are fooling yourself. The problem is this, gentle readers. There isn’t a lot out there to pick from and a lot of teams are basically sitting at the salary cap roof. To try to find a defenseman or a goaltender and not get the shaft of a deal is most likely quite difficult. Remember what I said above about panic. If Snow makes trades simply on the reflex reaction caused by the fan base, I’d be willing to bet the Federal Treasury )before the government spends it all), that the trade will end up being a bad one that will cost the team a heck of a lot more than they get in return. That is what happens when you trade from a position of weakness.

Beyond that, who gets traded? It is already apparent that the Matt Moulson trade has gone over with a resounding crash with the fan base. If Thomas Vanek doesn’t decide to sign with the Isles, it might have as much to do with the fan’s reaction to his presence than the state of the team. The Islanders have a deep prospect pool, but Who gets sent packing? What could be gotten in return for any of the current roster players who many armchair GMs are designating as “trade material”?

• Goaltending and the vilifying of it. Kevin Poulin and Anders Nilsson are the victims of a defense that has been too soft, indecisive and generally Bad at times. This is not to say that either goaltender hasn’t let in the softy or has given up a bad goal here and there. However, they have both been hung out to dry by the defense more times than not and the penalty killing or lack there of has probably cost this team more game in and game out than anything else. These two guys, I feel, could be the future tandem for the Islanders, so I have a problem with those who are writing them off when they have not realistically gotten a fair shake under the current situation.

• The defense. Not to repeat myself, but the defense has been Killing the Isles. I am left shaking my head at times as guys are left wide open, pucks are not cleared, no one knocks down people in front of the net and bad decisions seem to be the norm. How much the loss of Lubomir Visnovsky has effected the defense is truly understated by many. I think the loss of his presence, more than Brian Strait, has impacted the back line, and there has simply been no one capable or willing to step into that role. Andrew MacDonald is being forced to play minutes that seem more than he should be made to handle and Travis Hamonic tries to do too much out there. On top of that, rookies are being put into situations that are probably asking too much of them at their stages of development. The combination has been like a bad train wreck out there.

If Lubo is not coming back any time soon, then a trade does need to be made to address that void. I really don’t know what is available at this point in the season, but I have no doubts Snow is looking and trying to get something done. For those of you who are going to be quick to say that Snow should have addressed the defense during the summer, I think that
Andy Graziano of Eyes on Isles
does a great job of reminding us of just Who was available as possible signings back in July.

• The offense. Being 20th in the NHL in team scoring surely isn’t helping the situation either. Where is Josh Bailey? Where is Michael Grabner? What is Peter Regin doing? Outside of the 4th line of late, to me, there has been little to No life on the ice when it comes to the forwards. No one, especially me, believed that scoring goals would be a problem for this team, yet it has certainly proven to be another part of the overall Problem.

Is it line combinations? Do veterans need to be sat and replaced by rookies who might add life and passion? Does someone need to be moved? I’m afraid that a combination of “yes” as the answers to those questions may be in order. I don’t feel the passion and emotion from the forecheck and the offense that I experienced last season. Too many things are just Not working right now, and they Need to change. Brock Nelson needs to be in the lineup every night ….

• Accountability. The bottom line is the guys who take the ice are responsible in the end. Someone among that group has to stop talking about it to the media and saying all the “right” things and has to start Doing the right things on the ice. The team plays periods or 25 minutes of “good” hockey a game, but that’s it. The offense gets chances, but cannot cash in on all too many of them. Bad goals seem to go into the Islander net like water at times. Bad penalties leads to even badder penalty killing. The power play does nothing to help matters.

All of this comes down to the 20 gentlemen who have the job of winning games. Regardless of who is behind the bench or who is in the lineup, the final responsibility comes down to the guys paid to get the job done on the ice. The Islanders are Well beyond excuses and the old “it’s just growing pains” line just doesn’t count any longer.

This team is Much better than its record shows. There are Too Many guys under achieving right now. Change needs to happen, my good, gentle readers. Something has to give. Something Definitive needs to be done and done Now. I don’t have the answer or answers, but I also am not paid to have them. As a fan and someone who bleeds orange and blue, though, I can tell you that I Don’t Like what I am “seeing” with my ears.

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