2007-08 Preseason Foreplay: New York Islanders

2007-08 Preseason Foreplay: New York Islanders

Barry Melrose Rocks

2007-08 Preseason Foreplay: New York Islanders


Admit it. You know the Isles will win the Cup this year.

Quick hits

Odds for the folks at gambler’s anonymous

7 to 1: By this time next year, another backup goaltender will have a office position within the Islander organization.

Obligatory serious analysis

By far, this is the hardest preview to write. As you probably know I’m a die-hard Islander fan (there’s three words you thought you would never see in the same sentence), but it’s funny how my mind works. It’s not like other die-hard homers. I don’t have any unrealistic expectations of the team winning every Cup from now till eternity, or think Bill Guerin is the second coming of Mike Bossy. The way my psyche is composed of some pre-2004 Boston Red Sox ‘the sky is always falling’ mantra mixed in with the ‘what else is going to go wrong’ self-destructive thoughts of the Chicago Cubs. It’s really fun if you like the feeling of consistent disappointment and being sure that you’ll never see your favorite team when a title while still being in your early 20s. Couple that with a love of the NFL’s New York Jets and it’s a wonder why I’m still a fully functional member of society.

Enough about my problems, let’s move on to the Islanders and what’s going to get them shipwrecked like Gilligan this year.

For the Islanders, one year has changed everything and yet nothing at all. While the entire core of on-ice personnel has change almost completely, the team as a whole finds itself in the same position that it was last summer; everyone’s laughing at them, no one is picking them to win anything, and their fans aren’t sure what to make of any of it.

Yet again, most people believe that the Isles will finish last in the Eastern Conference. Others, such as ESPN’s EJ Hradek, aren’t so sure. Personally, I have no fucking clue. This is a team that has a solid coach and certainly is above AHL-level in terms of talent. That being said, it’s the kind of situation where one injury, mishap or run of bad luck can subdue them to a solid chance at the #1 pick next June.

On offense, the team lost four of their top six scorers in addition to their short-term investment on Ryan Smyth going bankrupt. Mike Sillinger and Miro Satan return this year, and they’ll get help from the additions of Bill Gurein, Mike Comrie, Ruslan Fedotenko and Josef Vasicek. If you exclude Smyth, who didn’t add much to the team’s playoff run anyway, this looks to be an offense of similar calibur on paper. Don’t get me wrong, it’s certainly not better, but this offense without the Alexei Yashin sideshow is going to be better than you think. This year, the team is going to be looking for Satan, Trent Hunter and former first round pick Sean Bergenheim to set up. If those three fall flat on their faces and no dark horses step up in their place, it’s going to be a long season.

The Islander defense isn’t looking any better. Goaltender Rick DiPietro come into his own last season, and finally proved that he can be a starting netminder in the NHL. “DP” had injury troubles down the strech, and without him it’s clear that this team might as well play in the AHL — he means that much to their success. The blueline is going to be looking for young kids to step up as well. This may be a ‘move it or lose it’ season for Bruno Gervais and Chris Campoli. Marc-Andre Bergeron was a nice addition and should be a solid contributor again this season, and Brendan Witt is the heart and soul of the team.

One thing that people should not over look is the contributions of injury prone Radek Martinek. Martinek is the fans’ goat on Long Island, but believe me when I say that when he is healthy he is a very solid two-way defender. The hometown fans won’t agree with me, but look at the statistics. Martinek matched his career high point total of 17 points while playing in 31 fewer games and (here’s the kicker) he led the team in plus/minus with a 19 rating. Let me repeat that for all the naysayers out there. Radek Martinek led the Islanders in plus/minus last season. He’s really not the swiss cheese that you think he is.

Prediction: This is a tough one. I don’t think that this team will finish last. Things aren’t as bad as everyone outside of Long Island believes. That doesn’t mean they will challenge for the division — which they won’t — but they should find themselves in the 11th spot come season’s end.

The best looking ice girls on Long Island
Ah, the New York Islanders. The team that invented the ice girl!

Ballhype – 2007-08 Preseason Foreplay: New York Islanders
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