Home Cooking is always better.(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
In my last post we took a look into some of the Islanders struggles last season. One of the areas they have been good in for most of the decade has been at home. Despite the struggles with attendance, the age of the arena, and anything else you feel like throwing in, Old Fort NeverLose continues to be a daunting place to play. In the last decade the Islanders only finished below 500 at home twice, with one of those being the 08-09 team that went 17-18-6.
Now it's time to see if the whole team struggles on the road, or just certain players. Given last years thin margin of error it wouldn't take more then a few players being off their game for us to lose. Just ask Martin Biron who saw his tendency to give up one bad goal an outing putting the Islanders in a hole they couldn't recover from. Since there are a lot of outside factors beyond points and +/- the plan is to keep this to players who had 60 or more games on the season. The smaller the sample gets the easier a fluky game can affect the results.For a point of reference, the Islanders were a +10 at home on the season and a -50 on the road for the season in goal differential. Since I was going through split stats anyway I decided to throw in a little extra info if it was interesting.
Home: 41 GP 9 G 16 A 25 Pts -5
Away: 41 GP 15 G 14 A 29 Pts -10
Other then doubling his +/- (which can be caused by a number of factors) JT managed to be just as solid on the road as he was at home. Hopefully it's a solid start that will continue throughout his career. Hopefully next season he can continue on the tear he went after the Olympic Break. In the 20 games following the break he had 20 points and put up a +3
Home: 41 GP 16 G 7 A 23 Pts +1
Away: 41 GP 14 G 11 A 25 Pts -2
Like JT, Matt Moulson was able to put up just about the same numbers on the road as he was at home. Not too surprising since they were linemates for most of the season. Interestingly in 24 Divisional games Matt managed only 9 Points and a -10.
Home: 41 GP 6 G 22 A 28 Pts +1
Away: 41 GP 5 G 16 A 21 Pts -1
Mark Streit continued to be a cornerstone of the defense whether it was home or away. His point differential can be seen as a by product of the Islanders just scoring less on the road. Although he didn't hit the same level of offensive output as last year (it wasn't needed) in the 20 games after the Olympic Break he put up 18 points and was a +4.
Home: 41 GP 6 G 12 A 18 Pts +3
Away: 40 GP 3 G 10 A 13 Pts -12
Poor Richard Park. A Roleplayer probably given too many tough minutes. There is talk that he may not get an offer to come back next season. Part of that might involve his surprising +/- difference between home and away. Also this is after Park was helped by the Olympic break as he was a +11 in the final 19 games.
Home: 6 G 19 A 25 Pts -11
Away: 13 G 14 A 27 Pts -11
One of the things that stands out about Kyle Okposo's home away split is his shooting percentage. While away he was at .107 Sh% at home he was at .047 Sh% while away. Since Gordon tended to use Okposo as a spark plug and shift him between lines, it makes you wonder how much of his struggles were with lesser team mates. In comparison during the 08-09 season he was fine at home getting 18 points in 35 game and a -1.
Home: 38 GP 6 G 4 A 10 Pts -1
Away: 30 GP 7 G 5 A 12 Pts -3
Jon Sim was another guy brought in to help bridge the gap between the past and the future. He was solid on the road and away but you'd expect that out of a vet like him. As he's a UFA this summer he's probably not going to be brought back. Interestingly he's another guy who had a big (for him) rebound after the Olympic Break. Half of his 22 Points were put up in the last 20 games of the year.
Home: 38 GP 6 G 17 A 23 Pts +7
Away: 38 GP 6 G 9 A 15 Pts -3
Everyone's favorite Dane, Frans Nielsen, is the second one to see a real drop in his +/- between home and away. But it might be more surprising to see that he managed to finish the season in the positive. It was his job to shut down the other teams top line (and score on shootouts). If the Islanders struggle away from home, then no matter how good he is, he's going to have trouble shutting down the other teams top line. One discouraging thing about Frans season. Pre Olympic Break he put up 27 points in 56 games with a +11. Post Olympic Break he had 11 points in 20 games but a -7.
Home: 36 GP 7 G 8 A 15 Pts -1
Away: 37 GP 9 G 11A 20 Pts +6
Josh Bailey was a solid defensive forward this season. He was also one of the few forwards to finish in the positive on the road. For the most part he got it done when home and away while not lighting up the scoreboard. Then he decided to go nuts and in 7 games he put up 4 goals and 8 Assists. That was just as the Calendar was switching from December to January. An unfortunate injury put him out for all of February. Post Break he played 18 games putting up 8 points and a -4. Lets hope his late season struggles were more due to returning from injury.
Home: 34 GP 3 G 3 A 6 Pts -1
Away: 37 GP 0 G 11 A 11 Pts -14
Chef Bruno was definitely someone who missed home cooking. There were a lot of people who took it to Bruno Gervais during the season. I'd be willing to bet a lot of the comments of hate for Bruno came after away games. To break it down further, in the 28 wins Bruno was involved with he had a +18. In 43 losses he had a -33. Clearly if there's someone on this list that should be gone it's Bruno.
Home: 35 GP 3 G 11 A 14 Pts +4
Away: 34 GP 0 G 7 A 7 Pts -9
Another defenseman another double digit swing in +/-. Jack Hillen's stats were actually hurt by his Post Olympic run. In the final 20 games of the year he was a -10. This was after he was a +5 before the break. Another Islander who got hurt during the year, you hope that had more to do with his poor play down the stretch then anything else.
Home: 31 GP 2 G 6 A 8 Pts +8
Away: 33 GP 2 G 5 A 7 Pts -10
With a total -2 on the year Freddy Meyer actually improved over his -19 in 27 games last year. Still the trio of defenseman on this list all managed double digit +/- swings between home and away. It almost seems to scream out that some of these dmen were just given too much playing time this season in absence of anyone else.
Home: 30 GP 7 G 7 A 14 Pts +3
Away: 33 GP 3 G 6 A 9 Pts -2
The Fin manages to keep improving his +/- from year to year and this was his first career positive season.So maybe next season he can finish in the positive both at home and on the road. In the 17 games he played post Olympic Break he put up 5 goals and 5 assists, almost matching his production pre Break. During that time he was also a +6. It'll be very promising if he can continue that into next season.
Home: 34 GP 14 G 15 A 29 Pts +8
Away: 27 GP 3 G 3 A 6 Pts -10
Wow, that is night and day right there. Not just his defensive play, but his offensive production absolutely disappears away from Nassau. It's not the first season Blake Comeau has struggled away from home either. In 08-09 he managed a -15 while on the road and -2 at home. Blake is someone the Islanders have a lot of hope for and he's going to have to figure out his road mojo. On the bright side in 16 games after the break he put up 16 points and a +4.
Home: 29 GP 7 G 9 A 16 Pts +6
Away: 32 GP 4 G 8 A 12 Pts -3
As solid on the road as he was at home, Trent Hunter put in another solid but not spectacular season. Like most of the forwards on this list, if there was a problem on the road it wasn't due to him. There are some people who want to see him moved, but going through his career averages he's been split pretty well down the middle point wise between home and the road.
Home: 23 GP 13 W 7 L 3 OTL 66 GA 2.94 GAA 697 SA 631 SV .905 SV%
Away: 27 GP 10 W 11 L 4 OTL 79 GA 3.06 GAA 858 SA 779 SV .908 SV%
Home: 15 GP 8 W 5 L 1 OTL 34 GA 2.35 GAA 428 SA 394 SV .921 SV%
Away: 14 GP 1 W 9 L 3 OTL 55 GA 4.31 GAA 431 SA 371 SV .872 SV%
A quick look at our goalies tells an interesting story. Dwayne Roloson put up the same numbers while home and away. His save percentage was only separated by .03. Meanwhile he faced 150 more shots on the road. Martin Biron though faced the same amount of shots at home and on the road, yet his SV% while away dropped by .049. His GAA also went up by almost two goals on the road. His poor road stats might be influenced by his last two games of the season. He gave up 11 goals in 80 minutes of ice time against the Devils and Penguins.
The only people who are being left off who should probably be on here are Andy MacDonald, Rob Schremp and Tim Jackman. Of them, MacDonald was in the positive both home and away. Jackman was a +3 at home and a -7 away. Schremp was a -10 away while a +6 at home. MacDonald is promising, Jackman I wouldn't worry about and Schremp is worrisome. But it was also Schremp's first season so hopefully he can correct that next year.
It shouldn't take a crystal ball to see it was mostly the defense that let down the Islanders away from Nassau. The struggles of Hillen/Meyer/Gervais shows that they probably shouldn't have gotten as much time as they did this year. That's why the Islanders are taking a good hard look at the UFA Dmen this year. Unless Snow is holding another magic card and makes a top four Dman appear out of thin air, for the Isles to continue improving someone needs to be brought it. Except for two or three exceptions the Islander forwards have the ability and the talent to get it done. But they need a defense that is going to back them up. Right now the Islander defense consists mostly of a Streit and a prayer. That's not going to be enough for a team wanting to make the playoffs.