Friday, December 19, 2008

And the Sun rises in Minnesota

This was one of my favorite photos from my brief stay in St. Paul in 2004. This was my view of the Mississippi River from my hotel room, 2 blocks away from the Excel Center. It may have been what the Islanders saw yesterday morning as they awoke to start a new day.

Yesterday was rife with controversy as the much reported Newsday headline announced "Witt blames Gordon for defensive woes." Story on A80.

I'm certain that's not the way Scott Gordon wanted the day to begin. There were already difficult decisions made on roster moves to accommodate Mike Comrie and Kyle Okposo returning from IR. To add responding to comments by Brendan Witt regarding his system just had to put more pressure on an already stressed rookie NHL coach. But he did handle it as best he could. He agreed, to some extent, and then said there was nothing more to say about it.

More over I enjoyed Doug Weight's comments about the system in this morning's article by Greg Logan. I did not, however, enjoy the back cover photo and the headline "System Failure." I understand it, but I don't have to like it.

"Our system is fine for what we have to do," Weight said. "It's a good system. We have to do it. That's just our fault of not doing a good job of back checking or being in position. We have to be more consistent as a team, do a lot of talking and be confident in where we're supposed to be."

In other words: DO YOUR JOB, AND DO IT RIGHT.

I watched the game in the comfort of my living room while wrapping presents last night. My husband watched the last seven minutes of it at the Fire Dept. with some of his buddies. I was greeted this morning by the following Islander fan quotes.

1) "We have HOPE not talent."
2) "We keep the guys with the 'smarts' but not the talent."
3) "We can't keep pace with the other teams for 60 minutes."
4) "We have NO pure goal scorers."
5) "Our lack of speed is keeping us in our own end, and our goaltender is constantly under siege."
6) "Our lack of skill is keeping us from scoring."
7) "Bailey and Okposo should not be playing with Mike Comrie. They should have been playing with Satan."

I wanted to put Bailey's in my coffee this morning after hearing all this. But they are not wrong. They are just the disgruntled fan base watching the eighth loss in a row and waiting for our prospects to give them something to cling to.

On the other side of the coin, I'm sure the Wild would like to thank the NY Islanders for helping to break their losing streak last night. What team will break the Islanders own slump? Will it be Nashville? How about Atlanta on Tuesday? Will it be the Leafs on Friday the 26th? Or will this be the longest slump in Islanders history?

How do they solve the defense problem now that Sutton is out with a broken foot from a blocked shot in the first period of last night's game? He was the only big body that could actually play. Yes, everyone complained that Fritz was a spectator last night with the best seat in the house, but seriously, Fritz only has one purpose and it wasn't needed last night.

Sim was playing hard but also as if he were deaf and desperate and couldn't hear the whistle as he tried to stuff the puck under Backstrom.

A Gillies got his first NHL goal. A Bailey is still waiting for his own.

As if Karma was playing a little game with him, Witt was knocked around and little by Cal Clutterbuck on more than one occasion. And a bratty kid with a Wild tattoo on his face gave Gordon raspberries behind the bench. This made the broadcast. Like he really needed to be taunted by an eight-year-old when he has the press to do that for him.

"Turnovers and decisions not to shoot the puck." That was Gordon's only answer to the loss. "The one thing they (the Wild) don't do is beat themselves." Gordon is losing his patience, as we all are. December is never a good month for the New York Islanders. But this December has been exceptionally brutal.

But as the sun rises once again, it's a new day. And with a new day comes a new opportunity. I wonder what the sunrise looks like in Nashville.

Enjoy your Saturday people.

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