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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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Try not. Do...or do not.


Monday, March 21, 2011

Isles Keep Truckin' Despite Standings

One of the things that bugs me the most as a hockey fan is how some people base their entire thought process on the league standings. Don't get me wrong, in many ways they are indicatieve of how a team is faring, but they do not tell the entire story.

Why? I'll tell you. Currently, the Islanders are last in their division, 14th in the conference, and 27th in the entire league (hey, we jumped a bit!). They have 68 points and are eleven points out of a playoff spot. While they come out even (5-5) in the last ten games, they have managed to get a point in four of their last five losses, the only regulation loss coming against the Rangers (and in many of those games, sad to say, they were in a position to win- but such is the case with a young team).

In the process, they have had two players reach 30 goals apiece (Matt Moulson and Michael Grabner) and their top line of Moulson, John Tavares and PA Parenteau is currently in the top three spots for points scoring among the team; Tavares leads the Islanders with 60 points even, his highest total to date. Blake Comeau also reached a career-high 20 goals, and Frans Nielsen has reached a career-high in points with 41. In goal, Al Montoya holds a solid .920 save percentage and a 7-3-5 record in 15 games played, after basically falling under the radar within the NHL's farm system. Crazy how that happens, right?

We cannot overlook the effect that head coach Jack Capuano has had on this team. After taking over Scott Gordon's position mid-season, the former Bridgeport bench-minder has gotten players to believe in themselves and each other, and even through brawls and suspensions the team has come out on top and has been enjoying the benefits of the system. David Strehle reports that since the 1-8-2 start under Capuano, the Isles have turned around and posted up 24 wins, 15 regulation losses and 6 overtime/shootout losses, making it a pretty WIN situation. Surely, the front office will lock up Capuano for next season at the very least.

Also, any opponent will tell you that barring the occasional head-up-rear sloppiness these young ones tend to display, the Islanders consistently come out onto the ice determined to win. There's a reason both Bruce Boudreau and John Tortarella, among others, have praised the Isles' forechecking ability and resilience at different times during the past two years. This is not your regular band of scrubs, no matter what the standings suggest. With a good streak to close out the season, John Tavares could join the 30-goal club, and Moulson has already proved to critics that last season was not a fluke. As for Grabner... well, there have been whispers about the Calder Trophy, for which he is still eligible. And while Montoya had a slow start, he's been giving Islanders fans a lot to smile about with his solid play and laid-back, earnest demeanor during interviews. With Rick DiPietro back in the mix, it's hard to say what might happen next, but all I know is that I'm happy with what the boys are doing on the ice. Something tells me the "country club atmosphere" has left for good, and in its place is a close-knit locker room and a determination to succeed in the coming years.

So even if the Isles don't make the playoffs this year (and they likely won't), with key players like Mark Streit coming back into the lineup from injury, and a young goalie named Kevin Poulin who certainly has what it takes to challenge DP or Al for a nod in net, I'd say we have plenty to cheer for next season.


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