The New York Islanders appear to be turning over a new leaf, but you'd never know it by asking their fans.
I can appreciate the kind of passion and devotion Islander fans have for this team and this sport. I grew up with it, I'm part of it.
But I've gotta be honest; the overwhelming response to yesterday's 3-0 loss at Nassau Coliseum was absolute overkill. In fact, it makes me sick to my stomach.
It just seems no matter what the Isles do, everyone complains.
They come away with two very tough road victories against Pittsburgh and New Jersey and everything's great. But one bad game 72 hours later and everyone's up in arms.
Even after going 0-for-7 yesterday, they still have the fifth best power play in the NHL right now. But one bad game and, suddenly, that's not good enough for anyone here. One bad game and it's time to tear down the sandcastle.
Mark Streit's tied for sixth among NHL defensemen in points this season, but to us, he's "overrated," "hasn't been great all year" and "needs to be traded."
Give me a break.
Also, as I've pointed out several times, Streit's never been particularly sharp in his own zone, but that doesn't mean the Isles don't need him or that he doesn't contribute in other ways.
If you think this team's power play is going anywhere without Mark Streit directing traffic, think again.
Last season, the questions and comments regarding Michael Grabner's finishing abilities (or apparent lack thereof) were valid. This year, they are not.
After all, Grabner's only on pace to score 24 goals in a 48-game season. No biggie.
He also happens to be a phenomenal penalty killer and produces more offense on his own than half the league does. It's clear he's not only learned how to finish; he's improved in other areas as well.
Evgeni Nabokov has a record of 4-2-1 this season and, more often than not, has stood on his head. And yet whenever a puck does get past him, he's criticized for not being everywhere at once.
There have been a few goals that were his fault, no question. But around here, EVERY goal is Evgeni Nabokov's fault. It doesn't matter if he's screened on the shot or the puck changes direction. It doesn't matter if the defense hangs him out to dry and can't clear the zone.
In Islander Country, the expectations are both astronomical and delusional.
If you're not Denis Potvin, you're not a real defenseman. If you're not Billy Smith, you're not a quality goaltender and if you're not Mike Bossy, you're not a talented goal scorer.
It's a sad, but vivid reality and it's downright ridiculous.
We often complain about how rough the rest of the hockey world is on our Islanders, but it just seems that no matter what the Isles do and even when things go right, the ones who are roughest on them are their own fans.
The Islanders are within three points of first place in the division (with a game in hand) and they can't even catch a break. It's unbelievable.
Get real, folks.
For once, be proud of the Islanders for what they've done so far instead of whining about what they haven't, or what you think they haven't.
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