The Island Is Starting To Sink

Garth Snow, John Tavares and Scott Gordon (Nassau News Live/Flickr)

Seven game losing streaks are a terrible sign that a team is starting to sink, not only in the standings, but in other areas as well. The power play may not be connecting routinely as it should; players who are relied upon for goals are missing the net or shooting into a goalie’s chest; defenseman are getting beaten in their zone; goalies are letting in shots that should have easily been stopped.

This is the current state of the New York Islanders.

After starting the season with a 4-1-2 record, they have dropped seven straight, their latest coming last night against the Philadelphia Flyers at Nassau Coliseum. A 4-8-2 record isn’t the worst case scenario when looking at the standings, but being four games below .500 as the team approaches the end of the first quarter of the season is something to fear. The Islanders need to get desperate.

Does it mean the season is over? No. Far from it. I can recall a season back in the Peca days where the Isles started 5-11 but then managed to make the playoffs with the 8th seed. I’ll go as far as saying that this young team is much better than the team that played back in those days. Coaches were changed too often, players were overpaid and underachieving and there wasn’t any youth pressing for a roster spot.

Matt Moulson (dougtone/Flickr)

Speaking of coaching changes, it has been rumored that Scott Gordon’s job may be in jeopardy. Tony Stabile from Hockey Independent had a bit of a friendly argument with me over Twitter discussing Gordon. Personally, I think it is too soon to talk about giving Scott the axe. Once again he is supplied a team of youngsters with players such as P.A. Parenteau and Michael Grabner looking to supply the offense that has been missing. Things may turn around, but not everyone is going to turn into Matt Moulson each time Snow rolls the dice on a gamble player. They were considered low risk moves with potential – and they are – but that doesn’t mean they will always work out in the GM’s favor. This team is lacking a forward that the team can turn to and learn from. So when things start to get bad, they only get worse.

However, Stabile made a very good point that if the Isles continue their losing ways on their west coast road trip, a trip that is never easy for the Isles, then the streak will hit ten and Gordon will really be sitting on the hot seat. I’d have to agree that ten losses would signify that Gordon has lost control of the team and changes may be necessary.

When looking at the Islanders history of coaching changes, one can see it never really worked out well in the past. Peter Laviolette was replaced by Steve Stirling, who never was able to get a good grip on the Island. He was then replaced by interim coach Brad Shaw who then was had Ted Nolan take his spot. Nolan will be fondly remembered for being a player’s coach that got the best out of guys like Jason Blake and Viktor Kozlov, but he and Snow never really saw eye to eye. So in came Gordon, someone Snow was hoping to establish a long-term relationship with.

Changing coaches leads to changing strategies and systems which then eradicates consistency. The Isles may be consistently losing, but they know how to play for Gordon and they all have bought into his concepts. The problem is that right now it’s not working. The first change that Snow should look to make is for a forward. He was able to get James Wisniewski on defense for almost nothing. It would be nice if he could shake things up a bit on forward instead of waiting for Okposo to return.

-Rob McGowan

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  • Kevin

    How about a goalie change?


    Steve Stirling took New York to the playoffs with a 92 point season with Yashin, Parrish and others out for long stretches his first year. He got a fifty point year out of Oleg Kvasha.

    The 2010-11 team cannot score at even strength, that’s why they have lost seven straight and have struggled badly all year at five on five.

  • Joe Rod

    Hey Rob,
    I agree with you 100% on it not being time to replace Gordon. Most of these young kids don’t know anything but the Overspeed style that Gordon preaches, and starting over with a new coach’s philosophy would only stall the rebuild. Besides, what difference making coach is just sitting out there,unemployed, waiting to jump at the Isles job? I can’t think of ONE! You made a good point on Snow always shopping off the bargain rack (waiver wire).For every Moulson that is unearthed, there are dozens of borderline players who never pan out. For what it’s worth, i feel Snow has done a great job finding some servicable talent in Schremp, Grabner, and hit a HR with Moulson. The team needs a go-to winger with experience,leadership, and scoring touch, and unfortunately may have to come via trade. Personally, I feel that there is a player out there who fits that description, and his name is Jarome Iginla. He is dying on the Sutter vine in Calgary, and would have a rebrth if he came to L.I. As much as it pains me to make the comparison, Iggy could be for us what # 11 was to our main rivals when he was aquired from Edmonton. Snow may have to part with a significant package of youth,prospects and picks, but if this team doesn’t become relevant soon, we can forget about the rebuild, because all of our home grown talent will bail as soon as they become FA’s.
    Well that’s my two cents…for what it’s worth.Keep up the good work, Rob.