There are 35 games left to what has been an excruciating season for Islander fans. If we look back at the last 35, it would take us all the way back to Nov. 4th, when the Isles won a slew of games and were actually making some think about .500.
Backup goalie, Joey MacDonald, was the toast of Long Island. "Overspeed" was working and the birds were singing. The Lighthouse Project wasn't yet in the middle of a political tug-of-war and just merely "slow." I didn't have the NHL steamed at me. Ahhh, those were the days!
Well, then it all changed. Since Nov. 4th, the Isles only won 10 of 35 games. After Dec., the Isles have only won three games. Talk about staring into an abyss.
One of the things I wrote back at the start of the this season was a concern that Coach Scott Gordon's "Overspeed" system might lead to many injuries at this part of the year.
It is what led me to believe that we'd drop to at least 12th place in the standings. Instead, as of Jan. 18th, out of 45 games, the Isles have a 276 mans games lost, which is unbelievably huge.
Now, is this all "bad luck"? Hardly. Most of this years injuries has been a very generally termed "groin strain." This is an improvement over the "lower body injury" and other generic stupidity that teams were touting. My guess is that even "groin strain" has been liberally used.
What I believe this all indicates is that the "Overspeed" system can lead to injuries. Unless you are young with a groin of steel, you are susceptible. Gordon's system might be good for the kids of the AHL, and better ice at Bridgeport.
On the pocked-up mush of the Coliseum ice surface with veteran and with others that do not exactly fit the coach's system template, it has led to a cavalcade of hobbled players.
Look, this was not a team with a whole lot of depth or skill in the first place, but the injury issue along with the system which has been publicly criticized by future trading fodder Brendan Witt, seems like the two ton gorilla in the lockeroom.
There is not a doubt that the "Overspeed" system has worked for Gordon in the AHL. Providence's success is well recorded. The Isles AHL team now uses this same system and has done quite well. So, here is a proven AHL system.
But the NHL? Not so proven.
Next season will be make or break for Gordon's scheme (the scheme, not the coach). Which means, as I alluded in my last blog, the Isles will be working this trade deadline to make sure those players who do not fit it are gone.
So chances of actually tearing it up in the next 35 games and being injury free are about as likely as me and Gary Bettman sharing tea and crumpets laughing about what a delightful comedic scamp I am.
The biggest question however is, if the Isles actually start winning some games, will the fans really come on board when they and everyone else know that the top two draft picks are franchise players who can aid the long-term turnaround?
My guess is any savvy fan will prefer the Isles remaining in 30th place, where it won't matter who wins the first lottery pick, and are assured a N.2 key draft pick.
The Isles can draft deep and wide, like they did last year. It might reap rewards, eventually, but for the Isles to rise from the muck anytime soon, they will need highly skilled franchise players that are potential stars.
Well, in my humble opinion, anyway.
(Source: James Mirtle (or as I like to call him my pet name: Judas), fromtherink.com)