Blog: Isles Damned If They Win, Damned If They Lose

So the Islanders have finally come to the halfway mark of their season and it’s just not pretty. There are games where you just don’t know which team will show up. And when you look at the standings, it’s either a head scratcher or you’re at the point where banging your head against the wall feels better. Fan reaction is nothing short or bipolar. When the team wins, the general felling is something like “Okay, two or three more in a row and we’re in the playoff chase.” When the team loses the other, more dominant feeling is like “Please someone fire Snow and Cappy, like two months ago!!” For some fans, the firings should have been two years ago including this writer of the coach. So how bad is this season for the Isles? Let’s take a look at the standings at the Islanders half way mark, again from the point pace view:

1. Columbus 121
2. Capitals 119
3. Montreal 112
4. Penguins 111
5. Rangers 106
6. Ottawa 96
7. Toronto 96
8. Carolina 93

9. Philly 91
10. Boston 91
11. Florida 87
12. Tampa 82
13. Devils 80
14. Detroit 80
15. Buffalo 80
16. Isles 80

Well, the good news is that after 30 games the Isles were on pace for 74 points and 10 games later they’ve slightly improved (please take that first line as total sarcasm). The bad news is they’re still in the bottom of the conference. At this point the Isles are consistently inconsistent. Don’t be surprised to see the Hurricanes in 8th place, they were in 9th before and on pace for 87 at that time. If you really want to be surprised, look at Toronto. It’s like I’ve also written before, The Isles have to make a run over the next 4 weeks before this season is, for me, mathematically over. Many will say the season has been over for a while or some will say the Isles season was over before it started. I can’t argue that, but I believe that over the next four weeks, we should start to see more teams surrendering the season and begin making trades to help their organization’s future. Should the Isles be involved in that? Yes, whether they’re buyer or sellers, the Islanders should look at improving the organization. Since we’re on the topic of improving the organization….

As far as firing the coaches are concerned, The Islanders shouldn’t fire Jack Capuano unless a number of other experienced coaches available, coaches who could take the team further than what Capuano has done. Perhaps if the Winnipeg Jets relieved Paul Maurice or the Sabres let go of Dan Bylsma, or Ottawa Senators associate coach Marc Crawford, a coach who at least has some kind of Stanley Cup appearance would greatly benefit the Isles. If Islanders general manager Garth Snow makes it through not getting fired himself, and wanted to bring in someone like Bob Hartley or former Isles assistant Gerrard Gallant, he could have done that already. So what’s the hold up? Two things: First, the Islanders believe that they’re still in this playoff race. Going by the mathematics, the are still in it. Until such time that they throw in the towel, everyone may stay. Only former Devils GM Lou Lamoriello had a history of firing coaches by season’s end, but the Islanders don’t have Larry Robinson as an assistant coach. Second, other than Dennis Seidenberg, if there is a trade made that involves the younger players or a top pairing defenseman, than it’s either the owners making that call to make that deal, or Snow will be around for at least another year.

So here we are, at the halfway mark of a season filled with faith, hope, inconsistency and frustration. Can’t trade the players yet because no team in the NHL has made any significant moves because only the Colorado Avalanche and Arizona Coyotes are truly out of the race. Can’t fire the coach for that same reason and because you really won’t be replacing him with anyone significant until possibly the summer. Can’t bring up more kids because the roster is full until injuries kick in. Teams will also be preparing for the expansion draft to see who they keep or save. Nothing short of a vicious circle.

So the fans are stuck watching the Islanders in front of them waiting to see which team shows up. The one that dominated Florida a couple of nights ago, or the team that forgot how to play defense against the Hurricanes. For some, it’s all about getting a streak going and still willing this team to the playoffs. For many, spring training can’t come soon enough. Many would rather see this team lose and see everyone in management fired and that’s a winning season for them. Indeed, the Islanders organization may be the only ones left that believe they can make it. For now, the percentages don’t lie. The Isles are still in this playoff race. You’ll get your answers over the next four weeks when the Isles play into February and possibly up to the trade deadline. After that, I think it’s safe to say some kind of changes are on the horizon, it’s just happening as fast as most would want.

PK

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