It has been a while. My apologies to my fellow Isles Talk writers and our readers. A cruise at the beginning of April, a business trip last week and just generally being busy has monopolized my time. Unfortunately, about four or five posts died in draft heaven since the beginning of the month as I just wasn’t able to complete my thoughts or write anything worth posting.
So, let me catch up with some Islander thoughts and some playoff observations. A lot of this will be me coming late to the table with, but so be it. There are a few points I want to make and a few thoughts I want to get off of my chest.
OK, so a 34-37-11 record for the Islanders this season was probably not exactly what many fans were expecting or hoping for. I know I certainly was not. I was thinking a 95 or so point total and a playoff position should have been where the Isles would be by season’s end.However, injuries and simple bad luck plagued the team and things surely didn’t turn out how many of us wanted them to be. Still, when you consider just what this team went through and the fact that the main scoring punch of the team went down to injury, they still managed to put up a strong finish and look pretty good down the stretch. Yes, I know there are some Islander fans, including members of my family, who will say that the strong play didn’t matter because they were out of the playoff picture and it didn’t mean much other than ruining their draft position. To me, though, I feel this team said a lot about its character and the types of guys in the locker room by the way they played in the end.
Indeed, guys like Ryan Strome, Anders Lee and Matt Donovan, stepped up and play well, as well as other guys, and despite many folks believing the Islanders would hardly win a game in March, they proved those folks wrong. Maybe, they didn’t have the “pressure” of a true playoff run, but keep in mind that they beat several teams who were fighting for playoff spots and had much more to lose. Yes, there were some impressive victories in the closing weeks of the season, and I hope fans remember that fact.
OK, so here are some other random “blind observations” I will also toss out to you in no particular order.
• Acquiring Jaroslav Halak was a big move for Garth. Yeah, I know there is the matter of signing him, but that is something I feel can be done by July 1. Is he the “answer” to the goaltending problem? If Evgeni Nabokov can be signed and will agree to play a backup role, it could certainly put the Islanders in a better position next season for sure. The trick will be to sign both goaltenders.
• I think Anders Nilsson pretty much assured he will be playing in Europe next season. Frankly, I understand a guy wanting his chance to play, but when you missed an entire season because of an illness and you really didn’t make a significant statement with your play this season, you should be ready to play in the AHL or anywhere else the Islanders would like you to play. If Nilsson had really come up big with a low GAA and a save percentage above NHL average, I’d say he would have a case, but as much as I feel he is going to be a good goaltender in the future, he first has to Prove that and his value ….
• Will the Islanders make any other moves by draft day or before July 1, I think so. What will those moves or the move be, I don’t know. I just don’t feel that Garth is finished this time. I think he knows that this off season is going to be important to get the Islanders back in the right direction and I don’t feel he will simply trust in fate and good fortune as much this time around.
• Yes, the Islanders might have to over pay for free agents. In fact, I want to see them do just that. Whether it’s Halak or anyone else, throw money at them. If that is what it takes, Garth is going to have to do that. If not, bring someone here via trade.
• I know my colleague, Paul, as picked the Rangers to beat Pittsburgh in round 2, but I must strongly hope the opposite. I have too many Ranger fan friends already planning the Stanley Cup parade and what day they’ll have to take off from work in June to attend it. I’d rather see Crosby and company eliminate the Rangers so I can enjoy the rest of my playoffs in peace ….
• I can see Montreal upsetting Boston, but I don’t think it’s gonna happen. Remember that Detroit beat Boston in gem 1 last round. I just think Boston has the horses.
• Minnesota certainly shocked Colorado, but that ain’t happening against Chicago. No, the Hawks are going to end the Wild’s playoff run …. in this round.
• If you are a Sharks fan, you have to be scratching your head, if not banging it on the wall. I think that team is going to have to do some serious house cleaning. I really thought those boys were going to end up facing Chicago and could possibly beat them to get to the finals.
• I’m torn between the Ducks and Kings. I have a friend who is a big Kings fan, but I also have a place in my heart for Teemu Selanne and the Ducks. I think it’s going to be a war in any case.
• Once again, hats off the the coverage by the NBC network of all of the playoff match ups. I haven’t been able to catch as much of the playoffs as I’d like, but I am enjoying as much as I can. It’s just awesome that we can get all of the games and frantically switch between them and ultimately always seem to miss a goal when we switch to another channel that has commercials on at that moment ……
Hopefully, I’ll be able to post more now that vacation and business trips are done for a bit. Remember to join Gary and I on Sunday for our Sports radio New York show at 9 PM. Garth Snow will be our guest for the entire show and we are looking for questions to ask him. Remember, though. We are not going to take ridiculously negative ones from the bashers, so please be respectful and thoughtful.