We are not going to rehash last night's game. Most of us saw it. Otherwise, you read about it. Some articles were less harsh, while the Isles broadcast was plenty harsh. But, that all aside . . .
What I'd like to talk about is Nolan's demeanor after this loss, and the steam coming out his ears.
"We just need more and have to have a better effort."
- Ted Nolan
Ted is not happy. The patience and hoping the Isles wake-up has ended. The hard-line has begun.
Bryan Berard, who in 18 games only has 2 goals and 3 assists for a paltry 5 points, and -8 on the plus/minus, found that out quickly as after taking a bad penalty, found himself benched . . . for the rest of the game. Big statement.
Compare that to Marc-Andre Bergeron, who has played 19 games, with 2 goals, 7 assists and a -4, and you have to wonder how Berard has evaded fans ire.
If we see this tendency continue, at full season's end Berard will have 20pts with a whopping -32. MAB? 32pts, with less than a -10.
So, MAB might make the more visible gaffes, but you can see his frustration. MAB has been far more effective than Berard offensively and defensively thus far, despite his place in the doghouse for fans and coach.
If you looking deeper at the Isles stats, there are some other glaring issues.
Mike Comrie 9 goals, 13 assist, 22pts, +/- -14
He's on pace for well over 60pts. BUT, he's also on pace for above -30. This is not the acceptable stats of a forward on a competitive team with playoff hopes.
Compare that to Miroslav Satan, with 8 goals, 9 assists for a total of 17pts. Sure it's not prolific. But he's also not been a liability at 0 on the +/-. (it was +2 before last night). So despite being on pace for 50pts or below, he's showing strengths on two-way play.
Meanwhile, Mike Sillinger's and Bill Guerin's stats are almost identical. Except for the +/- which Silly is clearly more respectable. Guerin's giveaway that led to a goal last night is a mighty fine example of this issue. Add to that that Guerin should be a 35 goal scorer and is only on pace for under 20, and you can see just one facet to a larger problem. Silly plays the PK and shut-down defense. Guerin is supposed to be the Isle's offense.
Looking deeper at the stats, and seeing what the Isles are on course to do based on it, is reason enough to start pulling the warning bell in the town square. It is just a facet to what has turned into a lethargic output by those expected to do more. And those who are the dependable ones, are those like Bergenheim, who Nolan called: "Best player on the ice" after last night's game. Or Richard Park, who is still laying it all on the ice. Park and Simon were moved up to the powerplay unit last night just to make things happen. That is a GIANT statement to those who should be the ones making things happen, and being paid as such. 4th liners and rookies are carrying the flag as the rest of this team seems to be falling on their own sword, weighed down by expectations, inconsistencies and what is beginning to look like a fragile dynamic of emotion, psyche and pressure.
There is something quite wrong.
Tonight, the Isles are home against the Phoenix Coyotes. They will be looking for answers as Nolan starts to pull the reins far tighter. We are swinging towards the holidays, with possibly something large on tap to wake things up. Trades seem to be a coming before that deadline, and the Isles might be well a part of that if things don't right itself. If anything, the Isles have shown a shaky and fragile core, and might need some changes before things really equalize.
If the Isles slide and shakiness continues without changes, the trade deadline prices will increase. And if the Isles are a seller at that deadline, that will be a good thing. But if the Isles are, at that point, looking for the playoffs at all costs, then changes cannot simply wait. November was a fall from grace. December is showing all sorts of shaky play. January might be too late to redeem what looked some impressive back in October.