Friday, March 30, 2012

Have The Islanders Arrived?

I really need to stick to my guns when I make an original prediction. Scroll down a couple of writings (2/29) and you'll noticed I had hoped for 83-88 point from the Islanders. Then, in my last post, I thought for sure 77 was the magic number. Welcome to the enigma and the growing pains (of all kinds) that are the New York Islanders. They currently have 77 points with five games remaining after whipping a Pittsburgh team twice in a home and home series. The Islanders have found life in the form of the Bailey-Neilsen-Okposo line. You all know the numbers and you know the stats, to put it simply, they're on fire. Most important, the Islanders are winning without the help of their first line and their start center John Tavares.

As a fan, I could not be happier getting out of the lottery draft because I firmly believed that the Islanders simply did not belong in that mix. Yes there is still five games left and anything is possible, but my hope is that the Islanders get close enough to 80 points so they can avoid it. I've been reading a lot from fans saying that these games are meaningless and that there is no pressure for the Islanders, win or lose. I see where they are coming from, but only to a point. If you look at the Islanders schedule from this month, there are only two teams (Toronto and Tampa) that really are not playing for anything at this point. Every one else is either in a race for a playoff or even bigger, their division. So there is some meaning for the other team to win against the Islanders, but on the flip side, the Islanders don't want to be beaten down anymore that what they've gone through already, so pride has meaning for players and fans alike. Many fans have come to think that the Islanders did not have an Identity this season, which is true, but they have one right now....spoilers and they're doing a great job of playing that role.

But seeing players excel the way they have recently, is it less pressure or has this team finally turned the corner? Are Islanders fans witnessing a very promising future or just another tease? No doubt, fans expected more in the free agency last summer from Garth Snow than what was done, but what fans weren't expecting was the rise of players Snow drafted such as David Ullstrom, Casey Cizikas and the excitement of maybe having Michael Haley up for a full season along with having Nino Neiderreiter on a scoring line. Make no mistake, this offseason is crucial for Snow, the Islanders and it's fans, but what needs to be seen are the players who are excelling now do the same thing in October and November when the season begins to compliment what hopes to be a good offseason of acquisitions.  That responsibility lays squarely on the head coach, whoever that may be. This team needs to be assembled and ready before training camp, no more invites and sudden signings. The coach must have this team wanting to win and win early. If this all comes together, then it's time the players looked at themselves in their mirrors and show to the rest of the NHL that they, the Islanders, truly have arrived and show that these last games of the season are not meaningless.  






Isles 5 Pitt 3

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Isles sign Grahame

NYISkinny: Eric Hornick's Blog: Isles sign Grahame: The Isles have signed veteran netminder John Grahame to a contract for the rest of the season.  This will allow Kevin Poulin (and Anders Nil...

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Isles Win 5-3 over Pens Highlights

Which Draft Number Will The Next 7 Games Bring......

Looking at the remaining seven games for the Isles: two against Pittsburgh, Boston, Ottawa, New Jersey, Winnipeg and Columbus, I can't help but ponder where the Isles are going to end up in the draft lottery this year. Frankly, its upsetting because I did not have the Isles finishing in the bottom five this year, hoping not to have to blog about another lottery, but alas, here we are. Realistically, I could see the Isles winning two out of the seven, maybe throw in an overtime loss if they're lucky. Let's face it, other than the Jets and Jackets, the Isles are up against some of the top 10 in the NHL, all going after playoff positions and division titles. I doubt we will see the backups during this stretch, maybe Hedberg from Jersey.

So tack on four more points and the Islanders end up with 77 points. If you want to be a bottom five team, you need less than 80 points and the Isles will be doing just that. With Toronto and Carolina playing each other tonight, one of them is guaranteed 77 points and if it goes to overtime give the other 76 points. Anaheim just needs one win in seven and they're at 77 points as well. We'll assume that with 5 games left all three teams will surpass the 77 point mark. So will the Islanders end up in 5th? Maybe. I think it's safe to agree that Columbus will be in the number one, but I'm not sure Montreal will be picking behind them. A season ending injury to Taylor Hall of Edmonton  may actually put the Oilers at the number two position in the draft by seasons end. Number 3? This is where it's close. Only Minnesota could beat out the Isles in points while I think Montreal could finish with 77 points as well. Both have more home games than away and have more winnable games than the Isles. Unless there is tanking involved, Minnesota could very well end up with 78 points and there would be a tie with the Islanders and the Canadiens, giving the edge to Montreal, leaving the Islanders in third place. So even after the lottery, the Isles should be picking 3rd or 4th in this years draft. So my predictions goes as follows:

1st: Columbus
2nd: Edmonton
3rd: Islanders
4th: Montreal
5th: Minnesota

Who the Islanders should pick will be discussed after the actual draft lottery, but for now, let's see who tanks the final 6-7 games. Bring on Bridgeport!!

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