Size, just like faceoff ability and so many blurry variables in the hard-to-compartmentalize game of hockey, is a tricky thing: You generally want it, because it generally helps win games.
But you can win games without it, and if you focus solely on one attribute, you end up with Adam Creighton (big and slow), or Oleg Kvasha (big and enigmatic, bad at faceoffs), or Nate Thompson (competent at faceoffs, but...).
Additionally, on the subject of size there is blueline size and forward size. Blueline size should help you battle opposing forwards. Forward size should help you battle both opposing defense and forwards. The Islanders, unfortunately, lack both. With the departure of Andy Sutton -- who, it's worth noting, battled Radek Martinek for Most Injured Islander status -- the only players on the Isles roster listed above 6'2" are Trent Hunter and two fourth-line wingers (though Freddy Meyer has played like he's 6'10" in recent weeks).
This complaint comes up here from time to time, most recently in comments after the loss to the Kings, and often after losses to the Flyers, of which there have been 15 consecutive (including shootouts). Why, even Scott Gordon finds Flyers games to be good occasion to admit the Islanders have a matchup problem there. Alas Trevor Gillies, called up for a few shifts in each of the last two Flyers games, is not exactly the answer.
The last three Isles losses to the Flyers were by one goal and could have swung either way via a variety of hockey's stat-defying variables; I'm not going to pretend having a few more bodies who were 6'3" in the lineup would have been the magic difference. But it helps.
It's something Garth Snow will have to address, but -- it being an ambiguous variable -- it's hard to know how and from where the solutions will come. But when Snow does address it, maybe someday we'll see a Flyers recap like this one, from Thrashers site Birdwatchers Anonymous after they swept the Flyers this weekend:
In the post-game show Sully was talking about how the Thrashers were 3-0 against PHI this season after managing just 4 wins against the Flyers in the nine previous years in franchise history. Sully credited the difference to the departure of Antero Nittymaki--which certainly has helped--but I would suggest that the addition of huge players like Antropov, Kubina and Artyukhin allowed the Thrashers to match up much better. It is a lot easier for a guy like Bryan Little to play with courage and passion when he has a giant teammate out on the ice rumbling with the Flyers along the boards. In the past the Thrashers were usually man handled by the Flyers, but not so tonight.
Note: But this is what I mean when I talk about the ambiguity of size's virtue: The undersized Islanders can't beat the Flyers, who the Thrashers with a little more size can finally beat soundly, yet the Islanders have handled Atlanta, taking this season's series 3-1 (one shootout win) and outscoring Atlanta 18-15. There is no magic formula, or else those former GMs wouldn't be working in TV.
Still: Throw Matt Martin in, throw in another big winger or two (and a big defenseman) who can help create more room for John Tavares, Josh Bailey and Frans Nielsen, and maybe we'll be singing from that hymnal.
That'd be nice.