Once again, Isles fans are getting to see an Islanders team that is incapable of holding a lead. I cannot stress enough that this is a result of having a young squad, but it is also due to the fact that some of these guys should not be playing in the NHL. But of course, fans are starting to point fingers, looking for a scapegoat.
Let's start with the fourth-liners, and here I will include the forwards that have not played on a regular basis.
Thompson, Park, Jackman, Sim, Tambellini and Schremp.
Nate, Jeff and Rob have not proven anything to be at the NHL level. There is more expected out of Schremp and Tamby, but neither of them have brought any level of consistency to the NHL level. In his defense, Schremp is getting a legitimate first time shot, but we all know the case behind Tambellini already - and yes, I am aware he scored last night. If he could keep scoring he wouldn't be in this category. Thompson has shown us that he is pretty much playing as a fourth-line/penalty killer because he knows Gordon from his days in the Bruins' farm system. But I'm willing to bet if we had a different coach, Thompson would not be here.
In my opinion, Sim could still be playing in Bridgeport. Sure, the guy hustles his tail off and puts himself in great scoring position. But he doesn't score, and doesn't do much of anything else besides forecheck aggressively. It was frustrating to see him on the powerplay in the first few games or so, but that says a lot about this line-up, doesn't it? Please keep this point in mind.
Richard Park - he's is an underrated fourth-line center. He's not very big, but he's quick, has decent hands, and is a hard-working, team-first type of player. Jackman earned a roster spot with his fists, hustle, and dirty work around the net over the past year or so. And good for him. These two are the types of guys you need on your fourth line. They won't look pretty out there, and they sure as hell won't win a lot of games for us, but they can stir up the opposition and generate some offense. However, the fourth line lacks a real tough guy who can occasionally chip in a goal here or there like these guys can.
Basically, I believe that four out of the six guys who make their way into the line-up would not be at the NHL level in a different organization.
Now let's look at secondary scoring.
The team doesn't have any. Yes, Bailey, Tambellini, Bergenheim, and Comeau have managed to get some points on the score sheet over the last game or two, but they do not produce enough consistently. (I'm excluding Nielsen because he missed time with an injury is off to a late start). I only see Bailey being a future second line center with Nielsen being our third with Comeau and Bergy working the wings. That's not a bad thing, but it just continues to illustrate that this team has holes to fill - here's where free agency is supposed to "sprinkle" us with a few additions, as Garth once put it. But that didn't happen. Better luck next year.
Tavares and Okposo appear to be the only top six forwards that we have that are showing that they are ready for the responsibility. It's great to see, and makes it fun to wonder about their future when you know that they will only get better. Right now I'll put a question mark over Moulson's head. The kid has played great, but it's too early to tell where he's going only because he's surprised us all so far.
So the team only has one active line with struggling third and fourth lines. Okay...so I made a point about how four forwards would probably be in the farm system elsewhere. I also mentioned a few days ago that our defense lacks a top-four set since Streit is our only top d-man. But where are the fingers being pointed?
At Scott Gordon?
I hear so many fans, and have heard chants at the Coliseum (I wasn't there last night and had to ref a men's league game so I missed the third period) requesting for Gordon's removal. Haven't we fans learned anything yet? Why blame the coach when he's supplied a very inexperienced, talent-lacking team? The players themselves have admitted they won't score a lot of goals and will have to out-work their opponents. That will work some nights, but not all nights, especially because these kids don't know how to win at the NHL level yet. Mistakes are bound to happen and leads are meant to be blown in a rebuild. We got through only one year of this phase, that didn't mean all was learned and perfect this year.
The players have also stood up for Scott as well. Go to Botta's blog at www.islanderspointblank.com
and scroll down to one he put out last week that quoted several players saying their problems are their fault, not Gordon's.
Do you remember when the inmates ran the asylum and many players were responsible for the firing of Laviolette because they felt he lost the room? Well guess what? He went to win a Stanley Cup and we're still crying about how we let the best coach we had in years leave because we wanted to please guys like Alexei Yashin.
A team only gets successful when the organization drafts from within and maintains a system under one coach. If you keep changing coaches, you keep changing systems, and round and round we go with a learning process.
Blame Gordon in five years if this team hasn't won a few playoff rounds if the team has emerged as a contender. But now? You have to be crazy.