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After playing their first ten games of the regular season, the New York Islanders are off to their worst start in franchise history with a 2-7-1 record, casting them into the NHL’s basement.
Entering the season with many new faces, including 2008 AHL coach of the year Scott Gordon, the Islanders were expected to enter a rebuilding year. The team features upcoming youngsters such as Kyle Okposo, Jeff Tambellini and Chris Campoli, playing alongside crusty veterans such as Bill Guerin and Brendan Witt.
Yet despite entering the season with low expectations, the Islanders got off to a very shaky start as they adjusted to Gordon’s new aggressive style of play.
In the early season they already had a bunch of significant injuries, including their franchise goalie Rick DiPietro. DiPietro had hip surgery in the off season and went under the knife yet again last week to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee.
The net is now going to be minded by Joey MacDonald and Yann Danis, who are likely to split playing time for the four to six weeks that D.P. is out.
The Isles also lost center Mike Sillinger, whose presence at the draw is sorely missed, along with assistant captain Brendan Witt. Witt is one of their top defenders along with Radek Martinek and Josh Bailey.
Newcomers Mark Streit, Doug Weight and Jon Sim have done good jobs so far. Streit, who was used as a power play specialist in Montreal, is making use of the opportunity to be a full-time defenseman and currently has four goals (three on the power play) and five assists.
Many other players, however, have been very disappointing up to this point, especially their top prospects Kyle Okposo and Jeff Tambellini, along with center Mike Comrie.
Kyle Okposo excited many fans at the end of last year, and many expected him to be a blooming star. But so far he has struggled, with only one goal and two assists in ten games.
Tambellini, like Kyle, is also a very young player with a ton of potential. But he has had a tough time in the early going. Jeff has no goals in eight games and only one assist, and has not shown a lot of hustle.
A main problem for the Islanders so far this season has been falling behind early.
For the last six games the Islanders have given up a goal in the first seven minutes of the game.
Another main weakness of this team is their offense. The Isles have scored less than three goals in five of their first ten games.
You simply aren’t going to win games in the NHL if you are scoring two goals or less every game. It doesn't matter who you have in between the crossbars, not to mention if it’s your second or third string goalie!
The most significant moment of the season so far came on Saturday 11/1/2008, when the Islanders took on the Canadiens at home. They donned their new third jersey, a retro look from 1972—a year when the Islanders won only 12 games.
The frustration of the early going is causing many fans to draw comparisons between the '72 team and the current '08 team.
The Islanders played their best hockey of the season against talented Montreal, scoring four goals in the first two periods. They were finally showing signs of clicking in Gordon’s aggressive system.
But then the floodgates opened in the third as Montreal rallied with four unanswered goals to stun the Islanders.
See this article for my recap.
What could have been a season changing game turned into a brutal and disgusting losing effort.
It’s going to be interesting to see how the Islanders react to this loss.
I believe the Islanders have the talent to make the playoffs. They can turn it around if they get healthy, but they need DiPietro behind the net to make up for their poor offense.
Stay tuned for more New York Islanders coverage!
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