The Isles play the Rangers tonight in a game that has meaning far different than what Islanders fans could even remotely imagine on trade deadline day. On that day, we picked up Ryan Smyth, DP was healthy and playing great, and the playoffs seemed a sure bet. There were even some hockey writers that proclaimed the Isles one of the best teams in the conference. The Isles had seasoned vets, some kids, toughness when needed, and the poise necessary to get the job done. Or so we thought.
Well, fast forward to the present and wake up to a potential, and highly likely, nightmare of maximum proportions. The Islanders most probably need to run the table and win all four games to make the playoffs. Worse, depending upon how things shake out tonight, there is a decent chance that at around 10:00 PM, the Isles may be eliminated from playoff contention and get to watch the Rangers do a playoff clinching jig on our center ice logo. To add insult to injury, Ryan Smyth's tenure with the Islanders may be only four more games. It should be an exciting draft this July for Islanders fans as I do not think the Isles have any 1st or 2nd round picks as we gave them up for Smyth and Zednik.
How did this all happen. Well, I think getting rid of Zhitnik was a big mistake (and for the Flyers to flip him for a high level prospect, ouch) . We could have used him the last six weeks. The injuries to Martinek and Gervais have taken its toll. Hill has gotten slower and less effective towards the end of the season. Freddy Meyer is abominable and Campoli is not much better. Then DP's blue line charge into Begin's leg in Montreal was a big factor in the Isles' freefall. Dunham has looked worse than if we had two orange pylons in net. Add to that Simon's lumberjack move on Hollweg and subsequent suspension, and we are now short one tough guy, and getting pushed all over the ice.
The even sadder part of this story is the perception by fans and even Ted Nolan, that the Isles have already packed it in. They certainly appear that way to me. The Ottawa and Buffalo games were embarrassing to watch. They should have been scratching and clawing. Instead, they moped around feeling sorry for themselves. Well, only a miracle can save them now. I can only hope at a minimum that the Isles beat the Rangers tonight so that I don't have to witness the celebration on our home ice.
As for this summer, it appears that
-Smyth will walk
-the Isles may let Blake walk
-we'll probably get stuck with Satan as his contract is too big
-the Isles have no high round draft picks
-DP's head will be a concern
-Hilbert, Bates, and Park need to leave
-the Isles MUST sign 2 solid D men UFAs
-the Isles must buy out Yashin ( the Isles record without Yashin in the lineup vs. with him is astonishingly better)
-Dunham must be thrown off the ship
-the Isles MUST sign a solid number 2 goalie
I'm going to take Pepto Bismol now as I am sick to my stomach.