The Isles season came to an end today, as the Isles lost their season finale 6-2 to the Boston Bruins at the Nassau Coliseum.
It was a long season in Islander Country, as the Isles finished with the least amount of points in the league.
Injuries played a big part to the Isles dismal season, as they lost a staggering 582 man games to injury. Their starting goalie, Rick DiPietro would only play in five games, and their top six defensmen only played in three games together.
On the bright side, the Isles have put themselves in position to draft either John Tavares, or Victor Hedman in the draft, as they are assured a top two pick by finishing with the least amount of points.
The young players on the team also grew and showed progress, as the team builds a foundation that will hopefully restore this once proud franchise into a contender again.
So now I'll take a look back at some of the highs (there weren't many), and some of the lows (there were too many) of the 08-09 season.
The Isles stumbled out of the gate in October, posting a record of 2-6-1.
Aside from the record, there was plenty of uncertainty surrounding the status of goalie Rick DiPietro. Was he or wasn't he healthy?
Even though I'm pretty sure we all knew he wasn't healthy, it still seemed to annoy the fan base that the status of DP was being kept such a secret.
DP would finally make three starts, and in his third game, he left after the first period. He re-injured his knee, and we would not see him again until late December.
As the calender turned to November, the Isles began to play better, as they posted a winning record of 8-6-1. It looked like the Isles may have a chance to be a competitive team after all.
Back-up goalie Joey MacDonald carried the team through the month, and was rewarded with being named the NHL's third star for the month of November.
Once December rolled around, injuries started to take a toll on the team, and the season spiraled out of control. The Isles would lose ten in a row before finally posting a win over the Maple Leafs the day after Christmas.
DP made his return that game, but he may have been rushed back, as he had swelling in his knee, and sat out three games before playing again. There were rumors swirling that the Isles were desperate to end the losing streak, and let DP return to the lineup after one full contact practice.
As January came, the Isles season continued to spiral downward. DP would return to the lineup again, against the Coyotes. Again his knee swelled, and this turned out to be his last game of the season.
Another long losing streak, this one of eight games, and a stretch in which they went 2-17-2, left them buried in the conference. This was one of the worst stretches in franchise history, and by far the low-point of the season.
After a loss to the Calgary Flames, coach Scott Gordon said he would start to give the young players more prominent roles on the team.
After the younger players started to play more, things began to turn. The Isles won three in a row to close out January.
This better play carried over into the month of February. The Isles went 4-7-2 for the month, but they were much more competitive and fun to watch, even in the losses.
Goalie Yann Danis played well this month, and posted consecutive shutouts at home, against the New Jersey Devils, and Buffalo Sabres.
As the calender shifted to March, rumors about a fire sale on the Island at the trade deadline swirled. This was not the case though.
Center Mike Comrie and defensman Chris Campoli were dealt to the Ottawa Senators a couple days before the deadline, and wing Bill Guerin was dealt to the Pittsburgh Penguins on deadline day. These were the only two moves made by general manager Garth Snow.
The Isles continued to play better during March, going 6-5-2 for the month.
The highlight of the month, and season came on March 27, when the Isles shut out the defending Stanley Cup Champions, 2-0 in Detroit no less.
In the game, Joey MacDonald made a beautiful save, which was later voted the save of the year by NHL fans.
As the season came to a close in April, the Isles seemed to hit a wall, as they went 1-6 for the month. In the six losses, the Isles gave up five or more goals in five of them. April somewhat soured the good feelings surrounding this team for the month of March.
The one high point of the final month was the Isles did clinch the worst record in the league, which will put them in position to draft John Tavares or Victory Hedman on draft day.
So there is the 08-09 season in a nutshell. As we look forward to next season, we can look to the continued development of this team as they build to be a contender again.
Before I end though, I just would like to commend the Isles fans out there. This was a tough season, but the fans were there to support this team at a majority of the home games.
Attendance was up for a fourth straight year since the lockout, and the Isles sold out yesterday's game, and drew over 14,000 people for today's finale. Pretty good for the worst team in the league, on a holiday weekend no less.
This shows that the Isles fans are still passionate about this team, and have embraced this rebuild with the hope that they will soon be a contender again.
Now it's up to the Isles to hold up their end of the bargain, and continue to build a winning team because us fans have been through a lot over the last 16 years, and deserve to have a winning team to root for again.
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