Now that we are slightly past the 1/2 way point, let's take a quick look at how the Isles have done as a team and individually.
If you told me before the season started that the Isles would be one point out of a playoff spot in mid January, I'd have been ecstatic. But after their great start, I'm a bit disappointed in where they are now. So which team is the real Islanders? Well, I think it comes down to Yashin, Yashin, and more Yashin. When he plays like he did through November, until his injury, the team was in the zone. But the post injury Alexei is the 2002-2006 version. And what is apparent is that the team is really a one line team. Without Yashin at his best, the Isles are probably not going to make the playoffs as currently constituted. So here are the grades:
Ted Nolan: B
Some may argue that he earned an 'A', but I'm starting to see some traits of which I'm not fond. Mainly the unwillingness to crack down on the team when they put in a poor performance. I've heard quotes from him after games such as (paraphrasing) "hey, we had 45 shots, you can't argue with the effort". Umm, yeah, you can, when the team didn't get dirty in front of the net and spent the last two periods throwing shots at the goalie from the blue line. No wonder the players all love him. The only consequence for lack of effort is a period on the bench. That said, Nolan is far better than Stirling, but not that much better than Shaw, really.
The $60 million dollar man shows flashes of brilliance and then flashes of mediocrity. Stay in the #@$%@#& net and stop passing to the other team. Stop going down so quickly, and stop giving up rebounds so readily.
Mike Dunham: B-
Started off strong, has been below average lately in a tough role coming off the bench.
Alexei Yashin: B
Was an 'A' in November and a 'C' since the injury. I can't figure the guy out, but if I am Wang, I buy him out this summer.
Jason Blake: A
The heart and soul of this team. Puts the puck in the net, gives it all he has got each night. Give him a new contract already!
Mike Sillinger: A
Scoring at a good pace and seemingly wins every faceoff.
Miro Satan: B-
He's just not himself this year. Looks malaised. Could the Buffalo fans have been right about him? I hope not.
Viktor Kozlov: B-
Looks like a world beater in some games, is comatose for the next five. A total enigma.
Randy Robitaille: D
We had better spend the York money on someone good.
Tom Poti: B+
Poti is having a solid season. Rushes the puck fairly well. Solid D, albeit a minus 6.
Chris Simon: F
Is he really on the team? Has done virtually nothing with his stick or fists. Slow as S#@%.
Sean Hill: A
Grit, toughness, and solid D.
Trent Hunter: D
He gets an 'A' for effort, but that doesn't cut it anymore. Would be a great addition to a top tier team's 4th line.
Radek Martinek: A
Excellent all round season. Great D, moves the puck well. Just needs to stay healthy.
Andy Hilbert: B
Not bad, but not good. At least he sweats out there.
Richard Park: B
See Andy Hilbert
Aaron Asham: B+
The numbers look weak for Asham, but does a lot of intangible stuff in the corners, etc. If he shot the puck more, would be a 25 goal scorer.
Brenden Witt: A+
What can I say about Witt? Covers the other teams' best players and shuts them down; hits, scraps, gets in the face of the opponent. Arguably the Isles MVP.
Sean Bates: F
Sorry Batesey, but it's time to hit the putting green buddy. You've slowed to a crawl and you are not doing much of anything.
Fred Meyer: C
See Randy Robitaille above and sub Zhitnik for York.
Bruno Gervais: B+
The kid gets better each night. Has a great future.
Chris Campoli: B
Also improving, but at a slower rate than Gervais. I'm a bit worried that Camps will be trade bait at the deadline.
Eric Boguniecki: F
Please don't ever bring him up again - I've seen better junior college players.
Jeff Tambellini: INC
Blake Comeau: INC
Franz Nielsen: INC, but was very impressed with his game during his short stint.
The problem as I see it is the Isles are full of players that would nicely compliment top tier teams but are not good enough to take the Isles to the next level. I would try and getv a second line scorer and offensive D-man now, but without giving away too many kids. If these moves don't pan out, I would clean house of the lesser valuable vets and bring up, Nilsson, Nielsen, Tambs, and Noke.
Let's see how it shakes out!!