“I didn’t like the way we’d been playing,” general manager Garth Snow told Newsday on Sunday night. “We’re better than our record indicates and we need to take the next step. Thomas is an elite player in this league and he’ll help us now and in the future.”
Kevin Schultz, Islanders Point Blank:That was GM Garth Snow to Newsday on October 27th after he traded Matt Moulson and picks to Buffalo for Thomas Vanek in a trade that (1) brought in an elite player and (2) shook up a team that he thought was better than their record at the time indicated. At that point in the season, the team was 4-4-3 and tied for second in the Metro division with 11 points.
After tonight’s 3-2 regulation loss to Winnipeg at the Coliseum, the Islanders are now 4-10-0 since the Vanek trade. They are also dead last in the Metro with 19 points, good for 27th in the entire NHL.
So what happens now that the Islanders, in the Gary Bettman You Get a Point and You Get a Point and You Get a Point League, have not gotten a point in nine of eleven and find themselves at the bottom of the weakest division in the NHL?
Vanek, for his part, has been more or less as advertised with seven points in nine games since joining the Islanders. Tonight he made some nifty behind the back passes to create chances that showed he is developing some creativity and chemistry with the Islanders franchise center and Team USA Candidate Kyle Okposo. The Islanders, one would guess, would very much like to sign the Austrian sniper who will be a UFA on July 1st. If they keep playing the way they are those chances become smaller.
Outside of those three players and Frans Nielsen, nothing is going well for the Islanders. Not every player is no good and terrible and deserves to be traded or whatever fantasy armchair GMs are tweeting about at the moment, but very little outside of those four is working. So what happens now?
Does the coach get canned? Another trade? Throw Ryan Strome and Anders Lee on the second line to send a message?
On November 15th, 2010, the Islanders relieved Scott Gordon of his head coaching duties during his third season as coach after an 0-9-1 run. As of tonight, the Islanders are on a 2-9-0 run in Jack Capuano’s fourth season with what is undoubtedly a more talented team than Gordon ever had (this team has four players right around point per game pace).
The Islanders spent much of the night without any real sense of urgency. They were decent in the first, then failed to show up for the second period (at home, after a road trip and three days off).
When Andrew MacDonald fired a power play slapper past Al Montoya to get the Islanders on the board at 3-1 with about two minutes left in the second, it seemed like there was finally an awakening and some urgency. MacDonald slapped the glass as if to say, finally, as the team broke out of a power play funk. They carried momentum into the third, where the Islanders would have a lot of chances and got within one when John Tavares did his amazing John Tavares thing and powered his way around the corner to a goal that who even really knows how he got that one in. But Montoya made some clutch saves, the Jets got out of danger just enough and got some help when they were awarded a power play with two to go. Too little, too late.
The Islanders of the final 20 or so minutes were a different team than the first 38, up until MacDonald’s goal. At home, after a long road trip, three days off, in the midst of a tough stretch, why the slow-as-molasses start?
Good teams have tough stretches and go through losing streaks but 9-of-11 is an awfully long streak for a team with playoff aspirations to have (luckily, they’re in a bad division in the everybody gets a point league with 50+ games to go, so they have all that going for them).
At some point, something’s got to give, right? Even if it isn’t the coach?
Doing the same thing, shuffling some forward lines, scratch someone else, and expect to get a different result. As an outsider, it can be and is hard to judge what exactly the issue is. But it’s also clear as day that what’s happening now ain’t working.