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New York Islanders Off-season First Priority: Capuano Must Go

It is time to reflect and to figure out why this Islanders team collapsed.




After the unceremonious end of the New York Islanders’ season and the sudden realization that life at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum is over, the task now turns to figuring out why this team couldn’t win a playoff series for yet another season.

Isles fans are well aware that this team been unable to advance to the second round of the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs since the magical 1993 season.  In that year, the Islanders, as an 8-seed, shocked the Penguins en-route to the conference final against the eventual champion Montreal Canadiens.

So now, it is time to reflect and to figure out why this team collapsed as the season wore down.

And yes, it was a collapse.

Not as bad as the 2007 Mets, but in the end, just as frustrating.

Taking a very good Washington Capitals team to game 7 on the road an losing is not on its face, a terrible thing.

However, the question is, why did it come to this?

Why were the Islanders on the road?  Why did they have to face a very good Washington Capitals team in the first round?

The answer is how the team played down the stretch of the season.

The team sat in first place with a dominating 37-17-1 record.  They were routinely launching 40+ shots at opposing goalies, and had won 4 straight when they faced the Rangers at the Coliseum on February 16th.

Holding multiple two goal leads, the team allowed the Rangers to tie the game, and then win it in regulation 6-5 sending the Islanders to a shock loss.

The scene became all too familiar down the stretch of the season – dropping points, blowing leads, and taking loss after loss watching the top seed slip away.

From that date, the Islanders managed just 10 wins in their final 27 games including 10 losses in regulation.

They blew a chance to host the first round of the playoffs on the season’s last day with a home loss to the Blue Jackets in front of a raucous crowd.

There was a discernible change in the team’s demeanor since that fateful night in February against New York.

With the team leading by a pair of goals, and not having lost to the Rangers yet that season, the crowd began chanting “You can’t beat us!” – but beat us, the Rangers did.

Just as the crowd seemed to lose its confidence, so had the team.

Tactically, New York spent much more time in its own zone, dropping back and not taking chances the way it had top open the season with the incredible run of 37-18-1 to start the year.

They seemed to be more hopeful of closing out games than closing out games by scoring more goals.

This was never more evident than in game 7 of the playoffs.  The Islanders looked tight, missing the nets from short range and managing just 11 shots on goal.

They were hemmed in their own zone for much of the game, and seemed unwilling to take chances and try to set the pace of the game.

Jack Capuano preached aggressive fore-checking and setting the tone and using speed – the team didn’t play that way.

When that happens, the coach has to go.



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