I feel for the Panthers. I just left 80 degree weather for over a week and come back to this weather. That foul wind this morning made me want to turn around and go home. Florida comes into this freezing stretch with a third loss in a row, last one coming from NJ last night. The Isles are looking for their six win in seven games. Wade Dubielewicz performed admirably and one could plainly see that with a few games under his belt, the Isles backup is quite capable in the pinch. But tonight, Rick DiPietro returns.
If we continue analyzing the last stretch of Isles games, out comes this little nugget: The Islanders have scored 22 goals in their last six games. That's a bit of an improvement on a their slide and power outage, running hand-in-hand.
Meanwhile, though Radek Martinek is still out with an injury, the defense around Dubie tightened up. With DP back in goal, one hopes the typical slow-to-adjust pace of the Isles will not seep in. With DP back, and the Isles motor humming, there should be no excuse or drop-off in effort. Consistency has been an issue this season, and with the new year now here, let's hope that the Isles can get that monkey off their back.
To help with consistency, Mike Sillinger returns tonight. Kudos should go to perennial whipping boy, Andy Hilbert, who won 53% of the faceoffs in Mike's absence. Rail on Hilbert all you want, but the guy does everything asked and provides a true depth and insurance.
The New School
So we all are talking about Kyle Okposo with a myriad of opinions that he should be joining the big club.
Au Contraire Mon Frere.
Per Garth Snow, the Isles were unhappy with his "development". Prospects need to be developed, not be given keys to the Zamboni on LI just for showing up. There is no doubt that Okposo is a lovely blue chip prospect with lots of people, including myself, looking forward to him being on the ice. But if you think this is the old days, like when Mad Mike forces DP into goal long before his time was due, you have another thing coming.
The Isles will want to see what they have, and as we've seen with Jeff Tambellini, the AHL player of the week, spots don't grow on trees. They are earned.
The future is bright, especially if the Isles hold onto to those like Blake Comeau, Tim Jackman, Ben Walter, and others. Youth will be served, but only when they play to Ted Nolan's liking. And he likes hard-working, consistent, aggressive efforts.
Okposo's time is coming. But head to Connecticut if you want a sure-thing on seeing him on the ice. If he does come-up for a look by the Isles, something I do not subscribe to, it will be for only 9 games max. 10 games or more, he loses his rookie status next season.