Just The Way You Are: The 2017 New York Islanders Preview

New York State of Mind: Living in Seattle and rooting for the Islanders

Ya had to be a Big Shot deencha! As a Billy Joel and an Isles fan I am left wondering, which is more ancient, that song or the 30+ year rebuild that the Islanders have been on. Before you, ya you, in the Peanut gallery chime in, I was alive for the 4 cups and have access to Google, so get offa my lawn ya whipper snapper! So, why would an Islanders fan start blogging on a Rangers heavy site? I love banter. I love the witticisms that come with sports fandom, as long as they don’t get too personal or troll like. Ked and I chatted and I agreed to start blogging for about the Isles and the hope is that both teams are successful this season, so that the banter isn’t like Iron Man picking on the pre-experiment Steve Rogers. For those following along at home, despite the colorways, Iron Man = Rangers, Rogers = Islanders. The Islanders might have won a few more cups than the Rangers over the years, but it has been a long damn time since that happened. SIGN JOHN TAVARES!

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Glass Houses: The Arena Situation

With that let’s jump into the preview. The Islanders are a freaking mess off of the ice. They don’t have a long-term arena deal. Bettman says that Nassau is a hard NO. Belmont is a great solution but in the RFP (Request for Proposal) process and years from fruition. Because the deal relies on NY Municipal and City politics it is more fraught with roadblocks than the highways in all of the Cannonball Run, Fast and Furious, and Smokey and the Bandit movies combined. Never mind the fact that Garth Snow’s predecessor, a well-meaning individual, spent his entire tenure trying to secure a new arena deal, only to fail. Add to that their current home, Barclays Center, with it’s awful sightlines and bush league SUV in the corner, wants them out. Not only do they want them out, they want them out in the way Donald Trump Sr. wanted those people out of the area so he could build Dodger stadium in Chavez Ravine. (It’s an interesting but terrible story) Suffice it to say Barclays would probably kick them to the curb now, despite the fact that they signed a contract a few years ago. Like most Islanders fans, I have a special place in my heart for the decrepit old barn that is Nassau. It is a fitting home for a team like my beloved Islanders. I hope that they figure something out, because as much as I want an NHL team in Seattle, I don’t want the Commish to move the Isles there.

Pressure: To sign Tavares, Weight and the youth corps

Dammit, we missed by that much. A single damn game and we could have gone to the dance. Unlike 2016 the Islanders have not dealt away fan favorite, homegrown players that scored a combined 134 points in 2015. We miss you Matty Marts, Kyle Okposo and Franz Neilsen. Josh Bailey had a career year and looks to be on the rise . Looking good Bails! John Tavares had a slight off year with 66 points. Also Anders Lee brought out 56 points in 2016. This is great, but have I mentioned that they need to SIGN JOHN TAVARES? The above situation complicates the JT signing a bunch. Mr. Islander has never backed off his commitment to the team, including all interviews and his allowing for the above situation to settle before he signs. As his contract goes, so go the Isles. If the trade deadline passes and we get bupkus for him, look for many Isles fans to jump ship (not me). We are a masochistic bunch, but there is only so much we can take, before we remove ourselves from a toxic relationship. On the positive side, the Isles brought in Jordan Eberle. The two of them looked like a couple of racehorses for Team Canada and the front office is betting on that chemistry to continue on the Isles. That move could be the ace the Islanders need in keeping JT here. SIGN HIM ALREADY!

Weight: The players love him. The fans love him and damn did he play well when he was young. Look for it on you tube, the man had some silky mitts. The Isles nearly grabbed the ring and got into the playoffs last year and a lot of that credit should go to Weight. He turned it around and got underperformers like Jason Chimera to perform and captured the fans attention in the process. We all know Cappy had to go and it shows. Weight has this team, largely the same as last year, motivated. Where it’s not the same, there is youth to improve it. The talent is there and they have the potential to grab the wild card.

Speaking of talent, the rookies showed some grit this week. Grinding out an overtime win against the Flyers rookies. Look for cats like Matthew Barzal, Sebastian Aho, and Josh Ho-Sang to tear into opposing defenses in 2017.

We Didn’t Start the Fire: Goalies and Defense

Last year showed that Capuano was not the only dumpster fire. The goalie by committee was a shit show. J.F. Berrube is now with the Blackhawks and thus we have 2 goalies. Both are capable of good performances and showed it last year, but they could not gain traction. Also, the sending of Halak to the AHL. What.The.Fuck. It’s a textbook case of how to destroy a tendys confidence. Greiss and Halak are likely to be 1 and 2. Halak had a better Save percentage, but the brass likes Greiss. Might be because Halak is sometimes streaky. Either way they need to put up better numbers than last year to make the wild card.

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While we are on the subject, the defensive corps scored plenty of goals in 2016. Leddy, Hickey, De Haan, Seidenberg and Boychuck killed it on scoring and creating from the blue line. Each returns having scored 20 + points last year. Leddy led the charge with 46 points. For a fucking D-Man. For perspective, JT had 66. Keep up the good work boys! Where is the dumpster fire you say? They ranked a still smoldering 23rd on total defense last year. All that scoring is great, if someone can stop the puck. To that end, the loss of Hammer is going to hurt and the Isles got draft picks, no seriously, draft picks in return. Look for the D-Men to score a lot this year and cross your fingers that they have the muscle to stop the goals coming at them. Perhaps the 4 year deal with Adam Pelech will help. Don’t leave your tendy hanging boys!

You May Be Right, I May Be Crazy

So, how are the Islanders going to do this year. Easy answer, who the hell knows. They are a total wild card. They are harder to predict than a sugar jagged toddler, on melting ice, wearing soap shoes. So, buckle up, place your seats and trays in the upright position, stow your carry-ons and prepare for take-off Hosers. Here we go!

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