No Islanders, despite any spin otherwise, was happy with their disappearance at the Coliseum. As the post-game words were apologist effort, not a one sat satisfied with a 3-0 loss at home against their rivals. In fact, it only added to fan disappointment to the team and the season. It did not sit right.
So, last night, they ended it properly. With some respect for the game, effort and battling. No, it doesn't make the season better. But at least it ends on the right note. And that's all anyone can ask for.
Richard Park has a goal, an assist. Kyle Opkoso, after showing many close calls at getting tallys lately, finally put one in. Comeau had an assist and seemed to get Avery focused on him. But where all 3 were heroes was in the shoot-out. All 3 scored, Park getting the game clincher as Dubie held off Prucha.
Jack Hillen once again looked quote poised and comfortable. Less nerves. Nolan cited he'd like to see more experience and strength to his game. He wants Hillen to focus on his off-ice conditioning and strength training. But, skill-wise, Hillen has been impressive, and obviously we have seen some of the reason he was signed. This summer and camp will be key for him and his development. Expect, however, some Bridgeport in his future first.
Dubie made another big statement to why, despite the fact McDonald's contract is one-way, that the Isles might be better served re-upping with Dubie for more time. He is better and highly competitive teams run with backups that are good in the pinch. Dubie has been not just good, but great in the pinch for the Isles two years in a row. IF the ISles want to build towards a brighter future, Dubie needs to be a part of that equation. Especially when we all know DP needs to start less games and get off this ironman routine. Dubie is the kind of guy to play a good 20 games or more. Team guy and gets the job done. Thats all you can ask for, and those kind of positives are key and need to be retained far more than other players who tend to disappear.
Speaking of changes: Players like Aaron Johnson, Tank, and even Satan seem terribly expendable. Isles are better off looking for talent, besides just effort. And those bring effort need to do it 24/7. Not just in spurts. While Vasicek, and perhaps Berard, might have a role. Berard did well once MAB was moved. Overall, the defense still screams for a top guy to lead a good depth of Martinek, Witt, Campoli and Meyer. Can Gervais grow? Jury is out. This season may have shown his ceiling. With Hillen and Spiller might be vying for more time next season, the defense might need examination and an overhaul. And it might mean someone like Berard might not fit that plan either.
Lots of work to be done this offseason. The Isles have the 5th spot and just over an 8% chance of grabbing the top spot in the lottery. Seems rather thin, but this is a deep draft. Stamkos is the clear #1. Doughty probably the best dman available. So unless the Isles get lucky, it will be neither and more likely someone like Nikita Filatov, or another dman.