Sunday, March 30, 2008

Reality Check

Garth Snow and Ted Nolan are never going to use injuries as an excuse. But, you see, I don't have that problem. I never played the game, and I'm not the GM, coach or a player on the Islanders.

Garth is going to do the right thing with this team, of that I have no doubt. The early first round pick in this exemplary draft will add another cornerstone player the franchise needs. Rick DiPietro is clearly one. Kyle Okposo could be another.

But let's not forget what happened this season. The Islanders' injury list was an underrated story this season. You know darn well if some other teams lost as many top-4 defensemen or important forwards, we'd probably never hear the end of it. The other reason you didn't hear much about the Islanders' injuries? Garth and Ted refused to let it be an issue.

I'm not going to single out every injury, nor will we put a lot of emphasis on the shutdown of players when the Islanders fell out of playoff contention. But know this: when the season ends on Friday, the Islanders will have more than 400 man-games lost to injury.

Top two-way veteran center Mike Sillinger missed 30 games.

Jon Sim, signed to agitate and score 20 goals, missed 80.

Chris Campoli, the team's top puck-lugger on the blueline, missed 36.

Andy Sutton - 24.

Brendan Witt - 23.

Bruno Gervais - who may return this week - 19.

Radek Martinek - 13.

Here's an exercise: take another NHL team and assign an equal amount of games-missed to their top 5 defensemen. How do you think they'd do?

5 comments:

Isandersfan22 said...

Jon Sim has never scored 20 goals in his career and his best offensive season was a 29-point effort in 77 games. Yet his injury was a main reason for the Islanders deplorable offensive production? Talk about grasping at straws for reasons to justify failure. Every year this team tries to sell its loyal fan base about significant progress yet spins its wheels. Every single one of my Islander-fan friends knew this team would struggle to score before this season, yet you act as if the league-worst goal-scoring production is a complete surprise. Failure to put the puck in the net kept this team out of the playoffs, but now you claim injuries to defensemen was the reason for the stark scoring decline. Don’t insult the intelligence of a fan base who haven’t seen in a playoff series win in nearly two decades.

Pittsburgh loses Crosby for months and stays in contention for the top spot in the conference. Yet the Islanders can’t possibly overcome the loss of Mike Sillinger and be in the 50th percentile of a conference? Since the organization loves to take bows for everything Charles Wang does, how about a reality check. DiPietro has yet to complete one healthy season in the first two years of a 15-year deal that cannot be insured. So let’s take it easy before hailing the genius of that deal when DiPietro is 35th—35th!! in save percentage and 33rd in goals against average. Perhaps DiPietro can be a cornerstone player. He still hasn’t reached that level of consistency. This was a mediocre team at the start. Every club goes through injuries. The Islanders may have suffered more bad breaks than the other team, but the fans are smart enough to realize the real “reality check” is our favorite team wasn’t built to win a championship. That’s the sad truth.

garthkhan said...

Another good activity would be to take a team and fill it with 3rd line talent and then see where they end up. You have no doubt Garth will do the right thing?!?!?! Seriously?!?!?! What gives you that idea...the way he bungled last season's UFA period or the way he botched this year's trade deadline???? Please Chris, while your loyalty to this franchise is admirable, it's gotta be tough to put a positive spin on 20 years of futility.

B.D. Gallof said...

Remember, Chris, that injuries hurt far more when you are thin at positions and there are gaps to defense/offense.

Injuries did affect this team. But they affected them more due to missing elements. Thus, those injuries had far more cause and effect than they should have.

In my opinion, anyway.

Love and kisses,
BD

islesblogger said...

Islandersfan22,

Comparing Pittsburgh and the Islanders is like comparing apples and oranges my friend.

You are forgetting about a young gun named Evgeni Malkin and his incredible story this season in Crosby's absence.

There was very little that could have been brought in to turn this season around - we just don't have "that guy" who can be looked upon to carry the team on his shoulders. We do have a supporting cast who are more than capable of each carrying a little weight - but these injuries Chris has spoken about pretty much killed that idea.

Our franchise starts with DiPietro and he is beginning to be flanked by players such as Bergenheim, Okposo, Comeau and Franz Nielsen - players you can build around. That's a pretty good base in my eyes.

This years draft and free agent period are immensely important for this franchise. It will either make or break the 2008/2009 New York Islanders.

Steven said...

I agree with BD - I'd add that the Islanders injury burden is also caused by its grinding style of play. You can only win so many 2-1 games before your team begins to break down physically - it exacts an immeasurable toll on your defensemen and goaltending. It is clear this team needs a #1 center - until then, injuries are going to pile up for the Islanders.