How does one take a bad loss? And I don't mean just any loss. But, a REALLY bad one. The kind that is like a karate kick to the gut after eating a bowl of chili and half an apple pie. The kind that leaves you just plain stumped. Numb. Daffy. Pissed. Furious. All of the above. Or none of the above, and just a bad case of gas.
There is no two ways about it. Last night was an awful loss. When I say awful, I don't mean in a watching Rachel Ray's talk show awful. I don't mean Rosanne's Barr's Star Spangled Banner singing awful. Not even the Philadelphia Phillies won the World Series awful. I mean in a Elvis dead on the toilet awful, in the middle of eating a bologne sandwich. That's the kind of awful I speak of.
Chris Botta of IslandersPointblank.com asked if I could do the game recap last night on his site, where I am a contributor and guest editor. Not a problem. I knew what was coming. It was in the air.
And I was not disappointed. At one point my pregnant and hormonal wife declared loudly...
"Holy crap, do we have to watch the whole game!?!??!?!"
Yes, we did. Read my game recap on PointBlank here: http://www.islanderspoint...lump-extended-to-5-games/
A lot of my observations of what went wrong are in that piece. So, please give it a read.
In the comment section of the site, is all sorts of reaction. Lots of people are up in arms. Why? We all knew that this was rebuild. Maybe, just maybe, we were teased with a thought of .500 but the Joey Mac ride could not last forever. People are acting like the Isles were expected to do better than this. No, they aren't. They are flawed, in the first year of a new system, and going to make serious missteps.
They also seem to lose themselves in December. Last year they tanked this month. Same this year. Habits die hard.
Are they as bad as last night? No, certainly not. With Rick DiPietro looking to get back at starter, and with some reorganization and focus, they can regroup and make a serious try at .500 hockey.
In the end, the most paramount thing about this season is the development of the kids. Frans Neilsen, Kyle Okposo, Josh Bailey, Blake Comeau, Jeff Tambellini, Sean Bergenheim, and more. That is what Scott Gordon was brought in to do. To develop kids and make them meld with a system that works to their advantage.
Right now, perhaps the deepest issue for the Isles is that they put Jon Sim on waivers. Sim was surprised by this move. You can bet the other vets see the writing on the wall as well, and perhaps that has seeped into their confidence and concentration this December. After all, they (Park, Weight and Guerin) were concerned about winning and playing for the now, in the face of the organization really thinking about the future. With Josh Bailey not even sent to the WJC for experience, it clearly makes a case that it is only about the now for those who are the future. The rest might be showcasing for draft picks via trade.
Make no mistake about it. The Isles are in trouble right now. There is an identity crisis going on. You can't be both a team for now and a team of the future. There is a schism here, and with Sim placed on waivers and rumors about a vet being shopped hitting the circuit, the real deal is coming loud and clear...and the team is in flux.
Reaction that somehow Scott Gordon is not the coach to lead this team or that he looks lost, is simply unfounded and overwrought projection from an embarrassing loss. Life goes on. Hockey goes on. The Isles go on. It will be interesting in how Gordon and even Garth Snow deal with the team and the futures here.
Buy some popcorn. It could get interesting.