THE MORNING SKATE — Lack of Effort is a Recurring Theme

Kevin Schultz

To see the Islanders 6-8-1 after 15 games isn’t really shocking. I don’t think anyone had any grand ideas of the team running away with the division or anything like that. Personally, I picked the team to finish 11th in the Eastern Conference, and at the start we took an informal poll of the national media that was much worse. Your mileage and predictions are certainly allowed to vary.

But, what’s shocking to me and inspired the post-game report you read yesterday, is the lack of effort that seems to be a consistent narrative since the calendar turned to February and the Islanders stopped winning quite so much.

Here’s Evgeni Nabokov after yesterday’s game, the 8th regulation loss, being very and refreshingly to the point:

“It’s a matter of, do we want to play as a team, go hard every shift, or do we wait around for Johnny Tavares to score a goal and then say, ‘OK, now I’m going to play today, too’?” Nabokov said. “It was a bunch of reasons why we beat the Rangers, why we beat Jersey. Johnny led the way, but everyone was working. I don’t have an answer why not today.”

Nabokov’s got a point. Tavares factored into four of five Islander goals on Saturday, with the fifth coming on a broken play when the game was well in hand. He literally won that game almost entirely on his own. While the fourth line sparked the Isles’ rally at the Garden Thursday, Tavares scored to tie it at 2-2, and won the game in the shootout.

Also of note yesterday is that Capuano mentioned that “we don’t have a whole lot of changes we can make,” after Monday’s embarrassment.

Prior to Monday, the Islanders’ last loss was a week ago today against Carolina at the Coliseum, their 7th regulation loss. There was a similar theme. Coach Capuano after that loss:

“It’s getting repetitious standing up here,” Capuano said. “I thought some guys were soft tonight. We didn’t win many puck battles . . . I don’t know how much you can shake up.”

The 6th regulation loss was that 45 shot performance against Buffalo, plenty of effort there.

The 5th regulation loss was a 4-1 clunker at Madison Square Garden. Lighthouse Hockey noted that Capuano targeted the team’s effort in his postgame.

Jack Capuano’s post-game with media? Not too happy.

Mind you, Capuano isn’t one to go ranting about his players, but he’s usually not quick to express his disappointment in their effort. His tone is usually more matter-of-fact about factors in a loss.

So twice within a week we have the coach saying that he doesn’t have a lot of changes available to him, which if we’re to read between the lines, means that to make real changes he would need different players. That goes along with all the pre-season predictions that this team, as assembled, isn’t good enough despite the promising start.

We also have the consistent questioning of effort after losses. If there’s truth to it and it’s not just one of those platitudes that comes out after a loss, it seems to be a very consistent issue. And this is not a group of players nor a coach that is new to this enviornment. There’s no learning curve or time needed to get to know anyone. The lack of effort has also one that has been noticeable to anyone watching the games. A coach needs to be able to light a fire under his players, and as I said in the post-game, this one doesn’t seem to be able to do that when the going gets tough.

ONE CHANGE TO THE DRAFT LOTTERY
TSN is reporting that the draft lottery will remain the same this year, with one change. The team that wins the draft lottery will now automatically get the first overall pick. In the past, the team winning the lottery would move up four spots. Bob McKenzie expected there to be more changes to the lottery system by next season.

SOUND TIGERS TO HOST ‘YOU CAN PLAY’ NIGHT
Details from the team’s press release:

The Bridgeport Sound Tigers have announced they will host “You Can Play” Night on Saturday, Feb. 23 against the Manchester Monarchs in support of the You Can Play Project.

The Sound Tigers’ You Can Play Night will be the first of its kind to be held in the American Hockey League. The You Can Play Project is dedicated to ensuring equality, respect and safety for all athletes without regard to sexual orientation.

The evening will kick off at 5:30 p.m. when fans will be able to participate in a pre-game discussion and Q & A session with Patrick Burke, co-founder of the “You Can Play” Project.

Fans can also contribute to the You Can Play Project by purchasing tickets through Ticketmaster using the promo code “YOUCAN”, where $5 of every ticket purchased will go to the You Can Play Project. Click here to purchase tickets.

The Sound Tigers are also partnering with local LGBT organizations throughout the area to participate in You Can Play Night. Organizations that are interested in participating in the Sound Tigers’ You Can Play Night are encouraged to call the Sound Tigers at (203) 334-GOAL.

HOWIE ROSE, TALKING TRASH ABOUT BASEBALL MASCOTS
During yesterday’s game Howie Rose — who is also the voice of the Mets — took a jab at the Phillie Phanatic yesterday, when an image of Mr. Met popped up on screen.