By Nick Colombo
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It’s that time of the year again. It’s October and that can mean only one thing. It’s time for me to dress up in a skirt for Halloween. Of course, if the idea of me marching in a parade in Greenwich Village dressed as a hairy-legged Alice in Wonderland doesn’t get your juices flowing, I know something that will. Hockey season is back, and it’s time for us to get back to talking some Islanders here in our season preview. Let’s start by taking a look at some storylines.
Sadly, the season hasn’t even started yet and we’re not just worrying about injuries but dealing with them already. To be frank, the losses of Streit and Okposo to shoulder injuries just plain sucks. On the bright side, the loss of Streit forced the Isles to go out and get Mike Mottau. The former Devil may not be able to replace Streit’s offensive or power play ability, but make no mistake he’s a solid addition to that d-line. As for Okposo, the Isles will definitely miss his offensive skill. However, keep in mind he only had 19 goals and 52 pts last year, so the Isles can conceivably survive without his production. The sad part is that we were all hoping his numbers would jump this year.
Looks like it will be another year of wondering how long Rick DiPietro is going to last as we write another chapter in the book of why you don’t sign players to 10 year deals. Luckily, Dwayne Roloson, even at 41, is a more than capable backup. That is if he gets enough playing time. Hopefully that means the Isles will split a reasonable amount of time between the two to keep Rick healthy and Roloson in a groove. Or they won’t and will screw everything up, again. Keep an eye on how this saga plays out.
Even without Mark Streit, this is one of the best defenses the Isles have had in years. The trade for Wisniewski in the off-season was huge and a tremendous move by GM Garth Snow. It gives the Isles a defenseman capable of 30 something points offensively and who is very good defensively. He may not be worth his paycheck, but I’m hoping the way Anaheim cast him off puts a chip on his shoulder that will translate into a good year for him on Long Island. This may be nowhere near a great defensive squad, but it’s an improved one that hopefully keeps the Islanders in a few more games this year.
The key word here is time. Hopefully another year in Scott Gordon’s offense heavy system and another year of growth for the young forwards means more offense for the Islanders. A lot of that will specifically come down to the growth of Tavares and Bailey, and whether or not Moulson can replicate last year’s breakout season. Watch out for PA Parenteau. He never really got a chance with the Rangers, and if he can get into a groove on a line, possibly with Tavares, he could do some good things this year.
It’s going to be a tough year for the Islanders in a talented Eastern Conference and a talented Atlantic Division. That being said, if the Islanders had avoided 1 or 2 of their losing stretches last year against beatable teams, they could’ve contended for the 8th spot. That’s what I’m predicting for this year. By late May I believe the Islanders will be in the conversation for the final spot in the East, and I’m expecting somewhere around 85 pts for them at season’s end.
Until next time, enjoy the opener, and feel free to contact me with your questions and comments at firstname.lastname@example.org