The laundry list of Islanders problems can start at the top of a 12-story building and flow all the way down to the pavement at Charles Wang's feet. It can start from way back when the Islanders chose to trade away players such as McCabe, Chara and the first-round pick that turned into Spezza, to the constant Lighthouse debacles.
This team has been struggling for what seems to be forever to get a new arena deal finalized. I have Ranger fans coming up to me to talk hockey to even say that it's a real shame that this franchise has to go through what it has to get the building they deserve. The team has a goaltender, that if healthy is an all-star net-minder, that has been out for over a year recovering from several surgeries and as a whole, hasn't made the post-season in several years.
But then a cloud opened up and a beam of sunlight came down from the hockey gods to lighten up the dark gloom amongst the Islanders and it's fans with the first overall pick and the drafting of John Tavares. So far he has done better than I had expected and is single-handily the driving force that is keeping this team right on top of the playoff bubble. His play has brought out the best in Matt Moulson and Kyle Okposo, forming a trio that will grow into an impressive first-line.
Then the Islanders signed Dwayne Roloson and Marty Biron to assure the team a chance of winning every game instead of relying on back-up and third-string goaltenders with a young team performing in front of them. Although they haven't been a superb duo, they have played exceptional and as hoped.
Then DP is scheduled to play his first few games of professional hockey with the Islanders affiliate in Bridgeport. He played his first game and after 40 minutes left the ice feeling great. Things just seemed to be getting better as his return was expected within a few weeks. The thought of DiPietro coming back to a young team that was over-achieving was enough to be a Christmas gift for some fans like me.
Well that Christmas gift has suddenly turned into coal, because things are starting to look bad.
The Islanders have been losing more than winning lately, and DP is being re-evaluated by every doctor under the sun...and this is where I get confused. If it's just "tightness" and DP and others are assuring reporters that it does not have to do with his previous surgeries, why the surplus of doctors and medical experts? I play hockey and feel tightness after my games sometimes, and I can right away diagnose it as a sore/pulled muscle. I'm sure a professional athlete like DP can tell the difference as well. Could it be that the Islanders are being extra extra cautious? Or are they hiding something from the fan base and the media once again?
It's hard to tell considering the way they handled DP's original set-back last year. Remember when he sat on the bench as the back-up and Gordon wouldn't send him in for MacDonald after her got blown out of the water in one of the first few games of the year? Then suddenly he was going to miss the rest of the season. Management tried to play coy with all those that were worried and now have a skeptical fan base regarding any injury to any player.
But hey, although we all want a healthy DiPietro playing on our home ice for the next 11 years or so, to be our franchise goaltender that steals games, wins playoff series, and owns his own Cup rings, we do have Mikko Koskinen developing in the minors just in case Plan-A fails.
I mean, we do right? Wrong.
He has been out since October due to injury. Now I knew that he was out from the start of the season but was unaware from what or how long. But thanks to Chris Botta at www.islanderspointblank.com
, I was able to find out that he was originally expected to only miss 8-10 weeks with a torn labrum. He had successful hip surgery but is still months away from a return and may lose almost the entire season if not all.
Two starting goaltenders with hip surgeries young in their career. Is there an end in sight with this constant merry-go-round of bad luck?
Oh yeah, and the Isles lost 7-1 last night. But I'm not going to talk about that. I didn't get to see much of the game since I was studying for finals and it seems that was a good thing.
In an ideal world, the Lighthouse Project will be finalized before the season is over and the Islanders won't move out of Uniondale; Tavares will win the Calder and help push the Islanders into a playoff berth; if the Isles miss a playoff berth, they will be able to move up in the draft and select an all-around defenseman that they lack on the blue-line; DiPietro returns and finishes the season with a healthy, promising outing; and Koskinen returns sooner rather than later and does not have the same problems that Ricky has faced throughout his career.
I'm asking for a lot in my ideal world, but this team needs it to come true. After all this team and its fans have been through, they deserve it.