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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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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Assessing A Season

This post will cover just a couple of categories that I can think of, that fit the Isles' grade this season. Here goes...

Points Leader: Mike Comrie, believe it or not, with just 49 points. What does that say about the Isles' offense? Uh, yeah, it needs to improve, big time. Bill Guerin led goalscoring with only 23, and Miro Satan had less than a career year as we had been hoping of him. More on offensive woes later, but for right now, I'd say it's an issue the Isles should like to address come draft time.

MVP: Well, it comes down to two names, for two halves of the season.
First Half: Rick DiPietro. When the Isles were the lowest-scoring team in the league, tied with Phoenix for least goals, the defense and Ricky were hard-pressed to find a way to win games- and lo and behold, the goalie pulled it out and bailed the Isles out many a time before he sustained his hip injury during the All-Star Game. Had he stayed healthy, the Isles may have had a chance to make it to the playoffs after all.
Second Half: Richard Park. Not the highest point-scorer on the team, but the work ethic displayed by the penalty-killing machine left Billy Jaffe swooning- and rightfully so. When others seemed to falter, he kept going, shift after shift, killing penalties and getting the puck to the net- and very late in the season, into the net. If only he'd been so bold earlier on!

Masterton Trophy: Yeah, I know it's probably copyrighted, but for the Isles, it's gotta be the Wittster, Brendan Witt, for coming back from no doubt a rough MCL sprain to try and get the team to the playoffs. The defense, and the team as a whole, have a different look with him out of the lineup, and they lost a ton of toughness, effective penalty killing and shot blocking, and rugged veteran leadership when he finally went down for the count with a few games left to play. His will to come back and try to fight through it shows a lot of strength and determination, and is the reason why he's one of my favorite players.

Young Stars: Blake Comeau, Jeremy Colliton, Frans Nielsen, and Kyle Okposo were all eager to show what they had, and show they did- especially Comeau and Okposo, who was impressive with his play (2 G, 3 A in eight games) in driving to the net, skating hard and setting up great plays, even earning a couple of shootout chances, one of which he made good on in the last game of the season.
However, Sean Bergenheim, who at 24 is still a young gun, has really matured in his second full year as an Islander. After leaving to play in Europe in 06-07, he came back and perhaps didn't have a statistically outstanding year (10 G, 12 A, 78 GP), and it took him a while to really show Ted Nolan that he deserved ice time. However, once he started getting onto the ice more, he took it by storm- his aggressive, speedy and physical play brought a spark to his line and gave him good opportunity to score. He still missed a few nets here and there, and sometimes his hands need to catch up with the rest of his body- but overall, he has really become a good player, and should be a key part of the Isles' campaign next year.

Goaltending: Well, we've already spoken of DiPietro (63 GP, 26-28-7, 2.82 GAA, .902 sv%), so let's talk about Wade Dubielewicz, once again in relief for the rest of the season. He played well despite a few hiccups and some D breakdowns (20, 9-9-1, 2.70, .919), and should, in my opinion, get a new deal with the Isles for next season, as he has proven to be a solid backup. If not- meaning if the Isles go with Joey MacDonald (who had two good starts in net this year and could have had a win if not for wicked Zach Parise)- then Dubielewicz should do well in looking for another team to join.

Next post will look at the captaincy, coaching, and what the Isles will or should look to improve on for next season. We'll also talk about some early signings made already by the Isles.

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