Is Isles Recent Play Cause for Concern?

Today, the Islanders sit with a record of 26-13-1, near the top of both the metropolitan division and the eastern conference.  Even with their high spot in the standings, fans are beginning to become concerned after their last two losses to the Canucks and Oilers.  Should fans be concerned though?  Or will the team get over it and get back to their winning ways?

Lack of Effort

One major element of each game that had fans concerned was the lack of effort put forth by the team.  In both games it appeared as though the team didn’t show up and was being outworked from the start.  On that topic, a lack of focus has been evident at times as well.  This was seen most vividly in the Vancouver game on Tuesday when Thomas Hickey was leading an odd man rush up the ice but the other players with him on the rush went to him instead of giving him someone to pass to.  This poor execution lead to Hickey making a drop pass to nobody and a breakaway the other way for the Canucks leading to their third and the eventual game winner.  While the lack of execution is on the players, the lack of focus and effort is on the coaches.

Could Coaching be a Problem?

Coach Jack Capauno has been a hot button topic among most fans on and off for a little while now.  A lot of fans think he is in over his head and that the team would be better off with someone like Dan Bylsma who was fired by the Penguins after last season.  However, given the team’s success so far this season, others think that it is absolutely crazy to consider firing the coach.  The other day, the Toronto Maple Leafs showed that even teams with good records let  go of their coaches.  While I don’t feel as though coaching is a problem, I don’t necessarily feel as though it is helping either.  Capuano has done a good job in his time with the Islanders given what he has had to work with.  However, I need to be convinced that he is the right guy to take the Islanders to the next step though because to this point he hasn’t shown that he is.  Meanwhile, Greg Cronin hasn’t really done what he was brought in to do as the Islanders penalty kill is still near the bottom of the league seeing very little improvement from last season.  Doug Weight is a great face for the Islanders and could turn into a decent executive one day, but his time behind the bench should end.  After starting off effective, the power play has been inconsistent to say the least.  Additionally, with his dual role in the organization having him behind the bench isn’t fair to the other coaches.

Halak Coming Back To Earth?

After a rough October, Jaroslav Halak settled in to be one of the top goalies in the NHL the last two months.  However, his play has regressed a little in the last two games and the Islanders haven’t been able to pick him up like he had so often for them.  His play in that two month stretch showed how big of a key he is for the Islanders and can be going forward and into the playoffs.  He is capable of consistently stealing games for the Islanders from back there which is something they haven’t had in a long time.  With the struggles Chad Johnson has faced so far this season, an argument can be made that Halak is the most important player on the team.

Should Fans Be Concerned?

I think getting concerned now is a bit premature, although the last two games have been very tough to watch.  However, I completely understand fans getting concerned because that is what fans do.  It is in their DNA to be concerned about their favorite team when they aren’t playing well, especially Islander fans with what we have gone through over the years.  But this team has gained a little leeway with the way they have started this season so I am not ready to get concerned quite yet.