Editor's Note from Dominik: The Islanders Injury Bug took out two fine players -- and WebBard's computer, too. But WebBard steps in from a remote location to deliver the following call to arms, so pull your heads up:
The injuries to Mark Streit and Kyle Okposo have put a gloom over what was to be a promising preseason. From those who want the Islanders to tank the season now to those who are wondering what vets will be traded at the deadline, the whispers of playoff hope have been quieted. Even I must agree when analysts wonder, "What did Islanders fans ever do to deserve these last 20 years?"
Yes, if this was last year's team, the loss of Streit and Okposo would have been devastating.
But this is a new season, one that has yet to even start. Even without Streit and Okposo, this is the most talented Islanders team in a few seasons. No season is ever going to be perfect; injuries are a common fact of life for any sports team. Now it is all about how Scott Gordon and every Islanders player reacts. Among the players it's time for someone to step up, even all of them. Among the coaches, it's up to them to find a solution, whatever that solution might be.
I'm not saying that the Islanders are going to be better now. But the Islanders are loaded with people looking for their first, second or even third chance.
Last year with Matt Moulson and Rob Schremp we saw how two talented players from different ends of the spectrum (a former 7th rounder and 1st rounder, respectfully) answered that call when given a realistic chance to succeed. It's not my place to call out a player and say he's going to have a 20 goal year now that Okposo's out, or that someone will turn into a top two defender with Streit out, but unlike the past there are players are on the roster that can make it possible.
For Scott Gordon entering the final year of his contract, this may be a make-or-break season. He can't let the team get down on itself to start the season. He also can't let them use the injuries as an excuse if they struggle. Every team is going to face its own adversities and struggles as seasons wear on. Being a coach in the NHL -- or any sport for that matter -- is all about how you and your team responds. Gordon probably has his best chance to prove he deserves to continue to coach on the NHL level. If he can get the team to fight through this and be competitive, he will prove he can handle anything that is thrown at him.
If in the long run this core of Islanders is going to be a playoff team and even Cup challenger, they are going to have to prove they can overcome any challenge. The talent and potential is there, but now it is a matter of getting it done on the ice. Even without Streit and Okposo, this Islanders team can still challenge for a playoff spot in the East. Plenty of teams in the East will have their own injuries, disappointments and challenges. It's the good ones who can get their players to step it up and keep competing.
The season's not over till the fat lady sings, and the curtain hasn't even been pulled up yet.