We, for the most part, are on the final turn to the yearly horse race of the NHL. This is where either riders and horses pick it up, or fall away into the pack. Right now, the Isles are fading into the pack.
The Flyers had their tough spot a couple games back. A freefall that has them climbing out with now 3 straight wins (i should have been clearer in my yesterdays blog, apologies to Flyer fans. I was rushing to get it done). Biron has re-emerged as the starter and been steady once again. And now they are poised for their final run. But yesterday seemed to leave us still at the starting gate. Losing 4-1 at home on a weekend that celebrates our great history is simply embarrassing.
If anyone hasn't noticed, Ricky has not been dominating in goal. And this was before the death in the family situation. Maybe a long season of overplaying himself is finally beginning to take it's toll.
The Isles team have long missed having the killer instinct. That innate desire to win, which results with individual battles won. It was why Nolan seemed to have steam coming out of his ears from Satan' gaffe that led to the Flyers lucky plucky puck that found it's way into the net.
A 4-1 home game in this final stretch, on a weekend celebrating the Core of Four, those great core players who created impossible and amazing wins, only shows the Grand Cayonesque divide of two realities. One which was the result of a building up that did not have unrealistic notions of playoffs. And one that does, and with it a motely crew of players who do not symbolize core basics of character and consistency on the ice.
Let me ask you.
Would DP be able to play so many games under Al Arbour?
Not a chance.
Arbour had them share time and earn their spots. And was willing to sit them down. Not take it upon themselves to play Iroman.
The most telling thing about the Core of Four players, who deserve much celebration and lauds, is that they were built for a longterm winner. Not to bring in just anyone as projects.
Yes, it took some time to build. It did not happen overnight. But it was a constant progression that had them get the players they needed and develop those pinions of longterm success.
Look closely at this team we have currently, and there are bright spots. From Witt, to Meyer's emergence. Meyer played 24 minutes last night, and had a even +/-. The kid line continues to play hard in their limited minutes, Nolan cited their play during the press conference.
But, you have to say, who is this team? Certainly not that bonding kids and men from Moncton. Who came out imposing it's offense on many teams in the preseason and at the start of the season. Someone should send them all there to somehow recapture that sense and time, because this team presently is in flux. Losing streak got snapped by a much needed win streak. But we are still below the equator to a post-season run.
Was the playoffs just delusion of grandeur simply because the Isles need it so badly in a business-sense. In any business, or at least successful ones, you build and take losses for the eventual longterm plan of making it profitable. It was why myself, along with many others, preferred to see a sell-off. Let the kids learn. Let them make a run. Or was it the simply truth that there simply isn't enough quite ready to make that leap to replace those dealt?
Or the simple truth that not many wanted the rentals at the price of picks to a deep draft.
Something seems terribly misaligned with this team. Priorities, perhaps. Garth Snow is set to be a builder. But there seems to be some pretty wide holes in the concrete thus far. And perhaps not his fault. But if this team has not smelled the coffee and that their backs are against the wall, and that every game and shift counts, then someone has failed somewhere.
Today, the Isles take on the Panthers where there will be a Core of Four celebration. Lets hope today's Isles find their own core and fight. Because time is running out. Dubie will be in goal, as DP is out for to be present for his grandmother's funeral.
As Nolan said, hockey sometimes has to take backseat to real life.