There's little point in piling on a 30th-place team beset by the most injuries in the league -- and missing one more player, Trent Hunter, for this MLK matinee game with the visiting Capitals.
That said, aside from their lack of depth, the most prominent failures of this team on display today (backup Yann Danis held his own) were three veterans who you'd like to be able to move for something, anything, at the trade deadline.
- Captain Bill Guerin -- who controls his destiny via no-trade clause -- took seven shots that missed the net. Now, you have to shoot to score, and Guerin's always been a streaky scattershot type of scorer, but his production lately -- 3 goals since Dec. 8, 2 of them on actual shots -- doesn't lead me to agree that a team would see him as "a last piece of the puzzle" acquisition. Bringing in Guerin to be captain in the Islanders' post-Yashin locker room was an astute move that has paid off. But his body, his time, and his usefulness in a major salary slot may be up.
Brendan Witt took two penalties that led to both Capitals goals. The second one was a post-lockout silly stick foul in 4-on-4 OT. Nonetheless, it was a pointless, avoidable penalty as Witt pursued Alex Ovechkin back over the center red line. (Witt called it "pretty weak," and the ref wisely asked, "how many times do you want to do it?") The sin is particularly useless in OT, where a 4-on-3 PP against this Caps team is inevitable death: better to chase him to the side of the ice and hope your three teammates stop him than to earn a penalty on a stick check that won't stop anyone.
Witt's been one of my favorite players during his term on the Island. But he, too, has appeared all season long to have outlived his role here.
- Mike Comrie: He played, too. That's about it.
It's no coincidence that of the likely "rental' options on the market right now, three of the top four cap hits are Islanders. Both last season and this season, the club has necessarily brought on veterans who carried quality concerns and paid them cap floor-reaching salaries on short-term deals. Of those three, Doug Weight is free from blame today -- indeed, his absence showed on the Isles power play until very late. Meanwhile, toss Witt in the mix of marketable Isles vets because of his "warrior"-like, sacrafice-all mentality.
Whether these guys want to stay or not, the way they're playing right now (the injured Weight excluded) makes me wonder exactly which teams will be willing to offer anything for their at-present questionable services.
But once the smell of playoff revenue starts to waft into GMs and owners' finely polished office doors, they can do some strange things they'd thought crazy just one month prior or two months later. If these Isles vets continue to sleepwalk through a winless 2009, betting on that sort of irrational exuberance from other GMs may be our only hope that this 30th-place journey yields more than the seemingly inevitable lottery pick.