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A blog by a long time New York Islanders fan who stays true to the fellas wearing orange, white and blue…but thinks the Islanders organization has some shaping up to do.

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Saturday, December 8, 2007

One Day Later.... One Hundred Degrees Cooler

Islanders 0 : Panthers 3

"Why are we weigh'd upon with heaviness,
And utterly consumed with sharp distress,
While all things else have rest from weariness?
All things have rest; why should we toil alone,
We only toil, who are the first of things,
And make perpetual moan,
Still from one sorrow to another thrown;
Nor ever fold our wings,
And cease from wanderings,
Nor steep our brows in slumber's holy balm;
Nor harken what the inner spirit sings,
'There is no joy but calm!'-
Why should we only toil, the roof and crown of things?"
-"The Lotos-Eaters; Choric Song Part II" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

I am no great analyst of poetry or literature, although I love to read and am a writer myself. However, when I happened upon this verse by Lord Tennyson and read it through, the first thing that crossed my mind (no joke, seriously) was that it would be perfect for this blog post. As it is, the Isles have slipped unbelievingly into a five-game losing streak, only recording a point in those five games. And after a good road game against the Panthers, save for a couple of bad plays, this team has seemingly taken a step back into failing to score goals and relied on, once again, Rick DiPietro as well as the penalty kill to keep it a close game.

Not only were no goals scored, but over three periods, the Islanders were outshot 41 to 24 by a Panthers team that I have to say I gave little credit to- they were fast and aggressive, and skated all over the Isles from start to finish, although failing to score in the first. DiPietro was given little help by the players in front of him, who were continuously chasing the play and spent way too much time in their own zone. Our lack of speed was obvious, as was our lack of pressure- the Panthers just kept blowing by the D for offensive chances. By the time Sean Bergenheim kicked in the puck for a no-goal call, I was completely frustrated, complaining out loud to Christine on the phone. The fact that the Isles are on this skid nearly made me forget about my obligation to be analytical, not critical to a fault, and thankfully she reminded me of that.

Which brings me to this verse by Tennyson. At the time, I felt as though we were the only team feeling the effects of our weaknesses. Of course, there are teams on a skid as well- the Rangers, the Senators. But I neglected that last night and vented to Christine, and thankfully she didn't tell me to shut up and stop being stupid. The Isles are a team that obviously has to work hard for every point, and even though they seem to have enough talent to score, they haven't. They're not the only team that has had to work- for all the offensive talent they have, that other New York team has been struggling to score and usually banks on unsuspected scorers to put the puck into the net, and they're also on a three-game losing streak. It's up to Ted Nolan, or at least one of the leaders on this team, to give the rest of the team a wake-up call, and make them realize that they are at the bottom of the Atlantic Division (even though standings don't seem to mean much at the beginning of December), they have relied on a sharp goaltender that can do seemingly everything except put the puck into the net himself, and they haven't been supporting him by crashing the net as Florida repeatedly did- and the time is now to start doing things differently. We have to be stronger on the puck, and we have to make plays and finish on them. As players and coach said last night in interviews, they're not going to give up (or as Tennyson puts it, "fold their wings") and they haven't run out of options, as one reporter suggested. They just have to work for it.

Now, on to a matter of player and coach confrontation. At least, that's what it seemed like two games ago, as embattled defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron and assistant coach Gerard Gallant were seen in a heated debate about the defenseman not being on ice on a 5-on-3 during the game at Atlanta. Although Gallant said it was nothing, as Greg Logan reported in his blog, last night Bergeron was a game-time decision, and at game time he wasn't on the bench. Apparently, Nolan, who made it clear that he wasn't okay with it as quoted by Logan, wasn't going to be so easy on the D, and he was right to do so in my opinion. Coaches have a reason and a method to the madness, whether or not that reason is obvious, and although Bergeron felt that maybe he could have helped, in no way do you get into an argument with coaches during the game. Clearly he will have to show in a better way how he can contribute to the game, especially to the PP, which he had been put on repeatedly in previous games. Tonight, at Tampa Bay, would be a great time to do so- provided he plays, of course.

Link to Greg Logan's blog- http://weblogs.newsday.com/sports/hockey/islanders/blog/2007/12/bergerons_backtalk_upsets_nola.html

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