Thank you, Bill Guerin ...
I've been yapping all year long (for years, actually) about how just getting into the playoffs should never
team's goal. Ties may be gone in the NHL, but mediocrity is also about as satisfying as kissing your sister, so the analogy remains. While I am
grateful to have the Islanders qualifying for the postseason fairly consistently again (four of the last five seasons) after missing the tournament so painstakingly often for so long (seven straight years), it's never been enough for me just to see them get in.
The fact that this year's Islanders team was not expected by many to do much in the way of damage this season did little to quell my desire for the franchise to once again be a true contender. Particularly after a pretty hot start to the year, my hope - as it has always been - is for the Isles to continue to improve as a team and make a run at the division. That, ladies and gentlemen, should
be every team's goal for the regular season.
Win your division.
If you fall short, for some reason, you'd better
at least be in the dance.
Then you can refocus a bit ... on the Cup
There shouldn't be any reason to aim any lower. Ever
Personally, save for the 2001-02 season when they finally broke the playoff-less streak with a berth-clinching home victory over the Washington Capitals, I've never even really celebrated wrapping up a playoff spot. (That night - I admit - I just about tore the house down as the Coliseum crowded chanted, "Playoffs! Playoffs!" Last year, as Dubie's poke checks saved the day in the shootout against the Devils on the final day of the regular season, on the other hand, it was far more a feeling of relief than celebration.)
So to finally hear similar sentiments from an Islander player, as I did today from Bill Guerin in <a href=http://www.nypost.com/seven/01292008/sports/islanders/isles_bank_on_playoff_spot_827190.htm>Dan Martin's New York Post article</a>, was about as refreshing a feeling as I've had all season.
"That's not our goal," said Guerin, referring to "squeaking in," as the team did last year.
"We want to win our division and secure as high a seed as possible," he added.
A far cry from the old, "We want to make the playoffs," which leaves such a blehhh!!!
impression on people like me. I know, though I can't place the quote to anyone in particular, that I've heard this from at least one Islander this season. And I also know that I'd much rather hear more of what the captain recently said.
This is not as much of a pipe dream as it may seem, despite the glaring lack of top-tier talent on the Isles roster.
As inconsistent as the Islanders have
been this season, there is still just a 5-point gap between themselves and the Atlantic-leading Flyers and Devils at the break.
As frustratingly inept as the offense has
been at times, Rick DiPietro has been just that
good at the other end, keeping the team in games that it otherwise had no business being in. (And you know what they say about a hot goalie.)
As bad, overall, as they've been on some nights, they've been the epitome of a team on others, and the result has shown in those instances.
A couple of real nice winning streaks and Guerin's vision could certainly become reality.
Consistency, clearly, is what the Islanders are looking for. It's what us fans have been looking for as well.
People like me, however, have long been hot after so much more ...
Like something higher than an 8 seed ...
Like a division title ...
Like getting out of the first round ...
Like a Stanley Cup ...
It's nice to finally hear that at least one of the players has a goal well beyond just being in
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