It's a huge question many fans have to ask themselves. Do we all want our team to be in the playoffs? Absolutely. What fan doesn't? Do we want our team to win and advance, and hopefully make it to the Cup Finals? Without question. Are these questions feeble-minded? Without a doubt. But how about this one...Does this team deserve to make the playoffs?
Unfortunately, I don't think so.
After only one game I am willing to bet that the next 12 games aren't going to be the lucky ones Iwe were hoping for. Sure, they may win a handful and encourage many Islander fans to have a little more faith in the team we all love, but I think it's time to face the facts. This team has had an abysmal offense all season long and it has shown in many contests throughout the year. We can just look at the Isles-Panthers game just a week ago when they amassed a whopping 53 shots and couldn't score one goal on their back-up goaltender.
Add to it that this team has had a handful of second chances. The teams we were chasing would lose the same nights that we would lose, allowing us to sit in the same hole we dug ourselves without digging any further. But instead of building on these recurring opportunities we would remain at a stand-still, and eventually give way to the teams that have the burning desire to make the playoffs. I'm not saying that there is anyone on this team that does not want to win, but there is something that is definately missing - heart.
I can only list a handful of players that have shown that they want to make it, that they just don't want to win, but want to earn it. Ted Nolan looks for these players and I have a feeling alot of them will be rewarded with more ice-time in coming weeks, especially if we fall further in the standings. The players I'm talking about are Hunter, Tambellini, Comeau, Colliton, Meyer, Comrie, and someone who has stood out tremendously lately, Sean Bergenheim. Guerin is a competitor and I believe he can be added to that list as well, but his abilities have faded and is not the force that he used to be.
I feel like the players that are heading towards free agency are going through the motions as if they know they will have a chance to start somewhere new - that this season is not worth saving. But of course I could be wrong and they could just be in a bad slump at a bad time. I'm no expert, but there seems to be a lot missing on the ice in recent games, and these are the games where they need to put everything they have to offer on the table, and it just hasn't seem that way.
Yet one may argue that the players I've mentioned mixed with the vets eyeing free agency should still be able to make the playoffs, and you may be right. But putting that aside, our miniscule 170 Goals For this season says why we can't win. This team does not have a first line forward that can put the puck in the net. When all else fails we don't have that one player that the team to rely on to come up big in a clutch situation. We knew this going into the start of the season so we really can't be too down on this team for not being currently in the playoffs. In my honest opinion, we were lucky to have made it as far as we did and should start looking towards the draft - and it is quite a deep one at that.
Imagine having a Stamkos, Doughty, Pietrangelo, or Del Zotto to look forward to in our farm system along with Kyle Okposo? To me that is more exciting than barely squeezing into 8th place to lose in five games for the 4th time in the past five seasons.
Some of you may disagree with my opinions of this team's ability to make it to the playoffs, and after all you're all entitled too. This team did perform a mircale when they made the playoffs last year after losing DiPietro towards the end of the season. Everyone that we needed to lose did and we won every game we needed to, even if it took a shootout in the final game of the season to do it. But can we really expect all that luck to be on our side once again? Personally, I don't see how we can. In addition, last year's team was a lot more competitive than this years. We had a 40 goal scorer in Jason Blake, a reason to believe with Ryan Smyth on our team, Kozlov, Satan, Sillinger, and Hunter with 20 goals or more. This team had offense and players that competed every single night. This season in my eyes has been a reverse of last years. When we were down games 2-0 in the third period last year, I still had reasons to believe that the team would pull it out and at least tie it, and there were plenty of times that they did. That team had heart. This year, besidse the 3 or 4 game stretch where they continued to come from behind and win, I haven't had that confidence that I had last year. They don't show nearly as much promise as last year's team and what's scary is last year we were only just a little above average of an 8th placed team. We also were not in 12th place at this time last year either.
I'm sure many Isles fans are scared that if we miss the playoffs and it starts a trend, that the Lighthouse Project won't pass. This is a concern for me as well, as it should be for all Islander fans, but I'll save that tale for another blog.
For now I don't see how making the playoffs this year will help anything since we are not a marketable team anyway. Playing five more games to most likely get embarassed by a powerhoused Montreal, New Jersey, or Ottawa team does not seem like a more profitable season as opposed to drafting top prospects that will one day, possibly in the very near future, give the fans lots to cheer about.
We all want the best for this team..let's just hope it happens.
Just found this on YouTube and it gave me chills. It saddens me a bit that I don't see this team conjuring the same results.