I have seen the new November and thy name be MARCH!
Just a few thoughts on March:
1. I don't think we've seen a team this good (Kennedy, Martin and Strait included) roll into the last month of the season in a few decades.
2. I haven't seen this much complaining about lineups in the last month of the season since I've been a member of LHH (2010?).
3. 1+2 aren't necessarily a disaster. Together they mean that the Islanders are very good, but could be even better. The problem is how. The consensus seems to be by shifting the lineup to include some and exclude others. I have a feeling that's going to get done, but it's not going to make the team that much better... maybe worse. But hopefully some change is coming.
4. Brian Strait. I've banged this drum for a while. I stopped doing it externally when it made my head hurt from the quantity, and lack of quality put into the banging. Brian Strait is not why they are losing hockey games. He may be a small factor. At this point I believe that Calvin deHaan >> Strait, and Donovan > Strait, but THE ISLANDERS as a whole are not much better with any of those parts in the lineup over the other. The same can be said for Michael Grabner. They are all secondary pieces to a very complex puzzle. They have lost games with all of them in the lineup. They have and will again win games with all of them in the lineup.
5. This has been a pretty rough schedule meshed with some roster shuffling. Almost a "perfect storm". All of the situations seemed to be positive alone, but together they have been a disaster. There has been the acquisition of Kennedy. It's been a plus. But his "usage" has basically displaced Michael Grabner. There are about a half dozen of those situations going on at once. The return of Okposo broke up the hottest line they've had this season. Brian Strait contributing to a solid PK has led to CDH missing more games than he should, and Matt Donovan eating a lot more hot dogs than he should. They acquired Neuvirth, but he needs playing time and he's a slight drop off from a very hot (right now) Halak.
6. Another factor may be that teams are starting to figure out how to beat the NY Islanders. Some of it may be that more talented teams have the answer, where they didn't before... and less talented teams may have the answer, but not the talent to execute it. Somewhere in there is a mix that will be uncovered come April 15th. The lesser teams are removed from the equation.
7. It might be time for a change. I have been a strong supporter of Jack and Doug. But if this is a one and done team it might be time to move on. There is no excuse for it. There is just too much talent on this team not to win a playoff series. It has been great for the team to have the perfect bridge between GM and player. Everybody seems to be on the same page. But sometimes you need to turn the page to find out what happens next. I have confidence that they will figure this out. I think we've seen that Garth has followed the model that Lou Cipher has laid out... though he's been very reluctant to change coaches. Three coaches in 8 years, and one of them was there when he started. The the exam begins April 15th. If the quizzes are any indication we may not have Jack Capuano to kick around any more.
8. The light at the end of the tunnel. APRIL! Even with a loss today (3/29/15) against Detroit they will still be in one of the 8 playoff positions in the East. They will still have a chance to earn home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. April brings hope. At CBJ, back home against BUF, a short trip to PHI, stay on the road against PIT and then CBJ again at home to close the Coliseum's regular season history.
March Sadness could launch April rebirth. The path is definitely there.
Let's Go Islanders!!!
YES!!! YES!!! YES!!!