Ottawa series could put Islanders in an ugly place

Stick-square_medium       Ott-right_medium

New York Islanders (4-9-2) at Ottawa Senators (6-7-2)

7:30 p.m. EST | [bank of some sort] Place | MSG+

Sens blogs: Scarlett Ice | Sens Army | Battle of Ontario

It's another battle of the cellar-dwellers! That's a recurring theme lately as the Islanders keep facing teams they could bump into last place if only they'd ... win. If they somehow swept this home-and-home Thursday and Saturday, the 15th-in-the-East Islanders would level themselves with the Senators, who sit uncomfortably last in the Adams Northeast Division.

Yes, the Sens are underachieving, Captain Alfredsson is breaking things at practice, and -- in a shock to Islanders fans everywhere -- Jarkko Ruutu is doing stupid things to get suspended. (Somewhere in Russia, Chris Simon smiled.) But the Sens are 10-1-1 against the Isles in the last 12 meetings.

My greater concern, though, is if the Islanders don't come out of this series with a minimum 2-3 points, an already rough start to this season is going to transform into season-long doormat status pretty quickly. A record of 4-11 (or thereabouts) would concretely take the honeymoon sheen off coach Scott Gordon's start -- and turn what we thought by February would be a "well, it's a rebuild" season into a six-month-long slog.

"As frustrated as we are, because we probably should have a better record and everybody wants to win here, at the end of the day, you're playing a game. Anybody will tell you, the fun part is winning. Right now, there's not a lot of that going on. You go out and work hard, but enjoy it. I said, 'Even though the result stunk, you're playing a game you love. At least you're going to work doing something you love. How'd you like to be a stockbroker right now?'
                                                                                >>Scott Gordon, to Newsday

 

That's fine -- it doesn't hurt to be realistic about this season and about what role it plays in a longer time horizon. And some real-world perspective on the unbearable lightness of hockey always warms the heart.

But giving fans at least a couple months of the audacity of Ted Nolan-esque hope would have made this season go down a little easier. Likewise, Gordon's task of keeping this mix of youth and vets on his system would be easier if the illusion of something attainable remained. A .250 win percentage at the quarter pole, if it gets that way, would make such illusions a tough sell.

Granted, the Islanders have been sideswiped by a plague of injuries almost on par with that which finally derailed Nolan's 2007-08 season last spring. But it would be a shame if the injuries and new-system adjustment had knocked them into a cellar path for the entire season. A shame, too, if that ignites premature calls for selling UFA's Doug Weight and Bill Guerin -- two vets who like Long Island and who, I suspect, will not want to go down the "trade deadline rental" path once again.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

Join Lighthouse Hockey

You must be a member of Lighthouse Hockey to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Lighthouse Hockey. You should read them.

Join Lighthouse Hockey

You must be a member of Lighthouse Hockey to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Lighthouse Hockey. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9355_tracker