"It's tough. I'm not going to lie . . . Now is a time when we'll see what sort of character is on this team. We'd like everybody healthy and going, but that's not the case. We have to buckle down and right the ship."
- Ted Nolan
"There are plenty of teams with guys hurt . . . We have to find ways to win. We can't focus who's hurt. We have to focus on who's here and getting out of this funk. We have to put the work in and then things will turn around and we'll start playing better."
- Rick DiPietro
You can't blame the fans. You could hear the boos on the TV. Of course, I was one stuck watching from home when work got busy, and I got home late instead of being able to get over the the Blog Box last night. Win or loss, being able to report, live blogs and interviewing players is a unique and informative privilege. Even if they lost every game, though as a fan I'd hate it, I'd still be looking to follow the story and get the gnitty-gritty. So hopefully come next week, I'll be in there more often when work and life calms down. But enough about me.
The Isles right now are at the rockbottom in terms of the lowest they've been all year. 5 losses in a row. 4 since the all star break. The 32 games left announcement in which they needed at least 42 pts to compete for a spot, is now just 28 games left with a total of 56 pts even available if they win every game.
42 is actually doable. But time is running out. And the Isles are, in a lot of ways . . . injuries, mentally and emotionally, broken right now. They need to pick themselves off the floor. Perhaps Nolan needs to circle the wagons, as he did last year with the team when they lost 6 in a row. That was from Dec 27th until early Jan of last year, where they were able to break out of it with a big win over the Rangers. This season, and with this slide, they simply cannot wait until they face the Rangers in March to wake up. No such luck. No local rivalries will come to the rescue so that they can find their focus.
Teams get measured by their ability to come out of a tailspin. I said this all the way back in November when both the Isles and Philly were coming out hot. That when they started losing, you'd get a better feel on who and what they were. So, Philly dropped in the standings, woke back up, and is still plugging away. The Isles, well, they fluttered back and forth, never quite finding their winning ways at the season start. A mixed bag. Now at February, we can look and measure who and what they are.
Yes, for Isles fans, it is dog days right now. The team struggles. But, somewhere, under all that, there might be a silver-lining. Some of these guys are showing their true colors. Hopefully the staff and Garth are noticing. Some are fighting it out and showing their stuff. Hopefully they are noticing that as well. As Guerin cited: For the past two weeks, Blake Comeau has been their best player. Bill's right. Well, except that Rick D has been also their best. Between that and perhaps a more extended stay for Tambs and Frans. Hopefully they will pump us up with some gritty play and some scoring. Tamb's opportunities are running out. If he fails to show something this time, chances are, he might be dealt.
Yes, it's not easy to be an Isles fan when things aren't going right. But it's a part of the game and the process. As long as the Islanders come out better for it, either this season or next, it's worthwhile. I know thats hard to swallow. But I'm a far-viewing kind of blogger. It is the dark days that temper the better product down the line. Doesn't make it any less frustrating or irritating, especially when the play is so subpar. The chemistry so nonexistent.
Rockbottom means that they can only go up. But are they quite there yet? We shall see.
Time to Evaluate
Nolan needs players who are willing to go to the mat for him. In Buffalo he had that from vets and then from the youth coming up. Maybe its time to really analyze and make moves to shuffle out those are not willing and bring up those who are, even if they will make mistakes. Nolan's type of game and play and the Isles current personnel are just not meshing. They clicked at camp and at the start, but stuttered ever since. And the blame cannot simply be rested on Nolan's shoulders solely, or even those assistants. It might well be shared by Garth Snow.
You can't make chicken salad out of chicken . . .
Well, you know the saying. It's time to take a good look at those players and make decisions.