Thursday, November 29, 2007

A Festivus for the Rest of Us

I'm still not convinced that I'm not hallucinating, that I'm not still in my food-induced coma from the Thanksgiving holiday. First, the much ridiculed Andy Hilbert (sorry for my current poll, Andy!) scores his first goal (and point) of the season against the Bruins on Saturday night. The only thing above that on the things-I-never-expected-to-see-happen list was a win against Ottawa. Keep in mind we've been riding an 8 game losing streak to the Sens, dating back almost 4 years (remember that great day of Jan 19, 2004 when we last beat them? either). Add to that a 4-29-9 record over our last 42 games against them, and I gave the Isles about as good a chance as seeing Sean Avery win the Lady Byng.

So needless to say I was pretty excited to see the Isles earn two points last night. It would have been sweeter to hang on for the win in regulation, but beggars can't be choosers. The cherry on top of the week will be another victory against the Evil Empire tonight in the Garden. To go 4-0 this year, and 9-1-2 over the last two seasons, against our most hated rival would surely put a smile on my face that would last until Christmas.

But still, what true hockey fan doesn't have a list of complaints even during the best of times? So even though Festivus is several weeks away, I thought now would be a good time to engage in the customary "airing of grievances". So in the true spirit of Frank Costanza, here we go...

- Why is Chris Simon playing on our top line, and getting power play time to go along with it? I understand Simon is one of Nolan's favorite guys, and I understand he is a great presence in the locker room, but neither of those things earns him a spot on the top line! The guy has as many points this season as Mr. A. Hilbert. Can you imagine the uproar if Andy was put on our #1 line? Seriously, how many other teams have a guy that jumps from the fourth line to the first line without showing any offensive prowess whatsoever? He's not a scorer, not a playmaker, and he's not clearing space for Comrie and Guerin to make things happen. I'm not saying Guerin's recent slump is directly related to Simon, but it certainly isn't helping matters.

- Where's the offense? After our 6 goal outpouring on opening night, I was all set for an explosive season. Or at least the ability to score 3 goals in a game! Last night was our tenth game in a row where we've scored two or fewer goals (excluding the goal awarded for the shoot-out win). Thanks to DP and some solid defensive play, we've managed to earn a respectable 11 points over that stretch, but you can't expect to survive like this forever. A big contributor to our scoring drought has been...

- Our anemic power play. Even though I'm a big stats guy, I'm not going to bore you with the numbers. Just watch the games! When we have a man advantage, no one is skating, no one is getting to the front of the net, and the shots they choose to take are (to put it mildly) of the low percentage variety. It's night and day from earlier in the season. What happened?!?

- Finally, everyone's favorite target...the officiating. It's becoming more and more frustrating to be a hockey fan. The inconsistency of the refs is reaching new heights of lunacy. Let's ignore the fact that I feel like the Isles generally get the short end of the stick, I just want to see a consistently called game. I understand there is always the human element at play, but things have to get better. Serenity now!

Despite all these gripes, I still love the game and I'm still proud of this team. We've made it more than a quarter of the way through the season, and we're continuing to silence the critics and play solid hockey. As always, Let's Go Islanders!

1 comment:

Jim McGlynn said...

Hey whats up buddy. Yeah, I keep beating the horendous power play drum on my blog as well. You are kind for not going into the stats, but I can't help myself. I'll be at the Bruins game on Monday, maybe I'll catch you there. Take care, go Isles.