Thursday, January 29, 2009

Double Standards

Yesterday, we learned that the Detroit Red Wings signed Henrik Zetterberg to a 12-year extension. The deal is worth a reported $72M and will keep him in a Wings uniform through his 40th birthday. Sound familiar?

Just for fun, Google the following:

"Zetterberg Contract", then "DiPietro Contract"

Click through the first 5 or 6 stories returned from each of those searches. If you don't feel like taking the time, I'll give you a preview of what you'd find...

On Zetterberg: talk of a "landmark" deal, references to how he's coming off his best season, how the Wings have secured a major piece towards defending the Cup this year and for many years to come.

On DiPietro: phrases like "dumbest move", "idiot owner", "rookie GM", and regrets, regrets, regrets.

Sure, the DP deal was the first of its kind in the NHL. Frankly, I don't have any problem with people criticizing it. It's a polarizing topic. What frustrates me is the double standard in reporting on Rick's deal relative to the several similar contracts that have followed. His injuries of late are irrelevant, since all of the harsh words I'm referring to regarding DPs contract were spoken before injuries were a reality.

To me it's another example of writers looking to take pot-shots at the Isles, Charles Wang, and Garth Snow. So be it. Time will tell which of these deals end well and which cripple their respective franchises. Unfortunately, our contract is the one that looks the riskiest at this point. Clearly, though, not risky enough to scare off Detroit from traveling down a similar road.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Number Running Pt. 2 - From Bad to Worse

Back in October, when hope still lingered for the 2008-2009 season, I prepared an analysis of some statistics relative to last season. Now here we are, 46 games into the year...let's update and revisit those numbers.

2007-2008 ; 2008-2009
Goals For 2.3/gm (30th); 2.4/gm (29th)
Goals Against 2.9/gm (23rd); 3.5/gm (29th)
PP% 14.5% (29th); 17.3% (18th)
PK% 81.8% (19th); 81.4% (15th)
Shots for 29.7/gm (10th); 29.4 (14th)
Shots against 30.3 (21st); 32.8 (29th)

If you're looking for a glass-half-full conclusion to draw from these number, I recommend you only look at the power play stat. Clearly this was an area that needed to be addressed after last season. The addition of players like Mark Streit and Doug Weight have helped tremendously in this regard.

Beyond that, it's pretty much all doom and gloom. Being 29th (out of 30 teams, by the way) in both Goals For and Goals Against speaks for itself. And for a team relying primarily on inexperienced NHL goaltenders, our defense hasn't been successful in clamping down on the opposition, falling to 29th in Shots Allowed.

But the good times don't end there! Here are a few additional mind-boggling stats:

- In last year's disappointing season, we averaged 0.96 points (in the standings) per game. This year? 0.63 points per game. Ugh.

- You look at the stats above and think our special teams are respectable? True. So what does that mean for our 5-on-5 play? Our goals-for vs. goals-against ratio in 5-on-5 play is 0.57. Meaning we allow almost twice as many even-strength goals as we score. Think about that. We are at the bottom of the league. The next worst team, Ottawa, has a ratio of 0.77. The best team, Boston, sits at 1.60.

- When we score first, we only win 42% of the time. We are the only team in the league under 50%. For comparison purposes, San Jose wins 82% of the time when scoring first.

- What about when we are lucky enough to lead after 2 periods? We win only 64% of the time, also good enough for bottom of the league. This means that when we enter the third period with a lead, we lose 1 out of every 3 times. Unacceptable. Colorado has won every game this year when leading after two.

I hope it doesn't seem that I report on these numbers with any happiness. They are sickening. But looking at things this way really points out that there are deep, systemic problems with this team. A team built on character is not good enough. And on a side note, a team supposedly built on character should at the very least work hard every night, which we have not gotten from the group.

We are rebuilding. Numbers like this can be tolerated in the short-term. But at some point, Gordon's system needs to click, we need to add some skill, and we need to get our #1 goaltender back. Things can become respectable quickly. Hopefully the team will still be on Long Island when that happens.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Fans

As of this posting, the Isles record stands at 12-29-5. Like many of you, I've got a bit of agita. Despite the meager expectations, I'm not sure anyone predicted this. Injuries have been a plague on the team, there has been the slow progress on the Lighthouse project, talk of a move to Kansas City and a confirmed training camp move to Saskatchawan (won't mention the Dubie incident). All of this should be leaving Islanders fans even more disgruntled and frustrated than we normally are. Goals have been few and far between and my God... 12 wins!!

However, a funny thing happened on the way to the doom and gloom...

The fans are still showing up. OK, the detractors will still point out the fact that the Isles are at the bottom of overall attendance. Fine, I understand. But tell me if you wouldn't totally understand the Isles fan base throwing in the towel. Here's a fanbase that has survived the Spano purchase, the Milbury era, poor trades, rebuilding, and then rebuilding again, a rise to respectability, and then a quick fall. Did I mention the Milbury era??!!

Check out recent official attendance figures.

1/19 vs Caps 15,221
1/17 vs NJ 16,234
1/15 vs Boston 15.548
1/13 vs NYR 16,234
12/31 vs Fla 12,211

Would anyone think twice if these numbers were closer to 8,000? These number show me that the Isles fans are out there, that they still love this team, and that they're still willing to show up and give support. We're 1 or 2 steps from either rising again or falling off the face of the earth. Lighthouse Project + Tavares = a new era, and new hope for fans that deserve it more than anyone. The same Coliseum most like equals the end of the franchise.

Just imagine a young team, centered around DP, Bailey, Okposo, Neilsen, Comeau, (Tavares or Hedman). A new building. Don't tell me we couldn't fill a 17,500 seat arena. Don't tell me we don't have the fan base.

I don't want to sound like a commercial but we are all Islanders. We've known the passion for hockey this area has. Let's hope we have the opportunity to show the rest of the league once again.


Back In The Saddle

I could lie and say that we went on a blogging strike. We wouldn't post another entry until the Islanders won a game... but anyway, life, kids have gotten in the way the past month. Look for a new post this afternoon.

Thanks for the patience...