The Islanders remain a mess under new coach Jack Capuano, having dropped six straight after falling 5-0 at Nashville last night. With only one win over the Devils that ended the miserable 14-game winless streak, it's hard to conclude that any progress is being made since the coaching change.
How does all the losing affect John Tavares, who himself is having a tough sophomore year? The former '09 No.1 overall pick has eight goals and six assists for 14 points along with a minus-19 rating in 25 games. However, he missed time with a concussion and doesn't exactly have much around him outside top finisher Matt Moulson, who paces the club with 10 markers and 16 points. Frans Nielsen is second with 15 points (4-11-15)- also matched by James Wisniewski (2-13-15) and Blake Comeau (5-10-15). Tavares is tied with ex-Ranger P.A. Parenteau (4-10-14) for sixth with 14 points.
If you're an Islander fan looking at the stat sheet, you're wondering why Tavares isn't on top and where the heck is Josh Bailey. A player Garth Snow traded down to get. To say it's been a rough season for the third-year pro would be an understatement. Bailey got out alright but went into a dreadful slump that eventually saw the club demote him to Bridgeport where he got hurt. It has all gone wrong for the projected second line center.
Then there's Kyle Okposo, who can't seem to stay on the ice. The emerging power wing is a big part of the team's future and seemed poised for a big season. Instead, he remains out after having right shoulder surgery, having not even debuted. On a club without much depth, that was a big blow as was the loss of top defender Mark Streit after a freak accident in practice back in preseason. The Islanders remain without more than half their starting blueline with both Milan Jurcina and Mike Mottau also on the mend along with Mark Eaton. Injury prone Radek Martinek finally missed a game last night with an arm problem.
All the injuries which occur every year like Bill Murray's Groundhog Day character Phil having the same day repeat over and over again, makes one wonder if this franchise is hexed. Between the whole screwy arena lease which hampers them along with owner Charles Wang's agenda oriented Lighthouse Project and Snow's execution of Islander blogger and former PR man Chris Botta cause he dared criticize the team, it's like a night at the circus. And we don't mean Barnum & Bailey or even James Dolan's clowns at MSG, who sadly look good compared to what's going on on the Island.
Even as a rival fan, I throw my hands up in the air at how the Islanders can ever turn it around and field a competitive roster. They are so bad right now that it's almost got an expansion feel to it. This is a franchise that's been around for five decades and once were league darlings with an Islander Dynasty spanning 1980-83. Hell. Even '84 though they fell short of winning No.5 against the Gretzky and Messier Oilers. This is a franchise that hasn't won a single round since that miraculous '93 run to the Conference Finals before Patrick Roy's Habs took them out.
Then, there's the mystery of Rick DiPietro and if he'll ever be the same following all the surgeries. When he gives up a goal off a faceoff because his head's down and it turns into the winner in a wild Atlanta game that featured over 1,200 Quebec Nordique fans cheering wildly at each 15 minute mark, it begs the question when is enough enough? With only five wins and a measly 15 points in 28 games, they have last all to themselves, having been outscored 98-59. The sad aspect is they started the season in first before the roof caved in Metrodome style. Apologies state of Minnesota.
So, the next time a Yankee fan complains (I am one) about Cliff Lee stuffing them for the Phillies, please. Even Mets fans have it better. Though you wouldn't know it by the way the new regime's operating. It might be time to put a giant HELP sign in front of Nassau Coliseum. Maybe then Gary Bettman will finally notice.