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Keep Them Isles Rollin’ – Trotz Leading Charge

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Against all odds, the New York Islanders continue to shove the pre-season critics’ comments down their throats.

Well, well, well…

What do we have here?

44 games down, and a record of 25-15-4, all while sitting in 4th place in the Metro Division.

“WHy dId Da IsLaNdErS sIgN FiLpPULa?!?”

“KOmaRoV?! WhAt GoOd iS hE?!”

If you don’t understand the value of both Leo Komarov and Valtteri Filppula by now for the makeup of this team, I don’t think you ever will.

To be fair, the General Barry Trotz himself noted that he was unsure of the signings when Lou Lamoriello mentioned the names to him. But Barry is now a full believer.

Trotz spoke to Newsday’s, Andrew Gross:

“You have players on every team that the analytics community or the average Joe Fan goes, ‘I’m not sure, there’s got to be someone better or someone more dynamic or more appealing…But they get the job done and, within a team culture, those guys are invaluable.”

I know. Not much of a stretch. The Stanley Cup winning coach from last year is proving to be a difference maker for the organization early on, and he’s hoping to bring that attitude into the playoffs this year.

But Barry Trotz is a realist in the long run, and understands this process is a marathon and not a sprint. He’s made no such guarantees in the same vein as his General (Lou Lamoriello) has also preached.

Hiccups Will Be Had, But Stay Positive

The previous 8 games should be a good indication of what to expect for the duration of the season as far as the teams play is concerned. I think everyone’s in the same boat hoping that the winning percentage will continue on this track.

Islanders scores from 12/29 – 1/13

In the last 8 games, the Isles are 6-2, with a goal differential of plus-11…

Oh by the way – they’ve managed to shut-out the Maple Leafs “juggernaut” and trounce the league’s best Tampa Bay Lightning in this stretch. Not too shabby for a team buried before the opening game of the season.

Ever the constant perfectionist, this Trotz is still insisting this is a group still trying to find it’s way through his system.

THAT VERY STATEMENT should excite Islanders’ fans.

The Ho-Sang Yo-Yo

I’m just going to be blunt…

I enjoy watching Josh Ho-Sang flying around as much as the next guy – but he hasn’t blown me away and earned his keep like a Devon Toews has thusfar.

He’ll still show that spark every so often, and he’s definitely improved as far as taking care of the puck.  We’re less likely to see him attempt to stick-handle through 3 defenders as we we’d frequently witness under the tutelage of the previous regime.

Josh Ho-Sang recently sent back to Bridgeport in favor of a returning Filppula.

But…

He needs to show he can dominate with the puck in the offensive zone. He’s got THAT type of talent.

The excuse that’s been thrown around alot is that he’s not playing with the correct line-mates, blah blah blah.

Okay – make those guys better then…

We should be seeing what Barzal has been showing the past two years when he’s given the chance. The ability to create with the puck, be responsible in his own end, hard back checking, etc.

He’ll never be a Barzal – I get that, nor am I asking him to be…However, he has those same type of skills. The painful thing is, we see it in short bursts, just not consistently.

The bottom line is – I can honestly say that I’d be less comfortable with the handling of Ho-Sang if this wasn’t Lou Lamoriello and Barry Trotz. Islanders’ fans need to trust that these guys know what they’re doing. They’ve dealt with plenty of talented players in their tenure, and this isn’t any different…

Josh Ho-Sang isn’t Mario Lemieux, let’s be real… Trotz and Lou are going to get the guy where they want him, OR he’ll be dealt. It’s as simple as that.

I’m rooting for him like everyone else – but at this point, with the team obviously moving in the right direction – if Barry and Lou feel it’s not working, I have no issue with them moving on.

Fourth Line Is The Identity

And I’m okay with that, and you should be too…

The glorious reunion of Clutterbuck, Martin, and Cizikas continues to pay dividends for the club’s bottom line. The team is noticeably different when one of the three is missing – particularly Casey. The often glossed over center is earning his money, no matter what some have said of his contract.

The “best fourth line in hockey” continues to thrive under Trotz’ system.

The guy can simply play hockey, and does ALL the little things you want from a center-man in both zones.

I can’t say this enough – but the team make-up is drastically different when Casey isn’t in the line-up. The Penalty Kill is worse, and most importantly, the line match-ups are off kilter among other issues when the all-around player isn’t available…

Matt Martin is obviously very comfortable back in the blue-and-orange, and is taking advantage of his increased role with the club over what he was designated for in Toronto. Not only is he contributing to the physical presence of the team (per usual), he’s found himself to have an increased offensive production as of late.

 

The mission to prove all the nay-sayers wrong continues on.

Follow/trash me on Twitter – @brasqo

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Danny C
Danny C Brasqo || A 30-plus year hockey fan who insists on acting like he knows what he's talking about. || Follow my ramblings and/or trash me on Twitter -> @brasqo || Or don't...