Is this just Lightning in a Bottle?

After six years of being absent from the Stanley Cup Playoffs, I think I can safely assume that we (Islanders fans) are ecstatic for the next few weeks.

Not trying to be a ‘Debby downer’ in any way, but being realistic, I want more.

By more I don’t mean I want them to go make a run at lifting Lord Stanley over their heads in June. Although it would be nice, I want consistency.

They can’t be the 2010-2011 Tampa Bay Lightning, yet they are so similar.

Lets recap.

The Lightning, with the help of the Islanders (cough Dwayne Roloson cough) went all the way to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals where they lost to the eventual Stanley Cup Champions, the Boston Bruins.

What a great season you say.

Led by veterans and past champions like Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier and young studs like Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman.

Everyone picked the Lightning to be the next Chicago Blackhawks, making the deep run in the playoffs one year and then winning the Cup the next. (Photo Credit: AP)

They had so much talent and they still do, but they fell, and they fell hard right on their faces.

The next season in 2011-2012 they put up 84 points but failed to make the playoffs. This season they were abysmal finishing with 40 points in the lockout shortened season.

It hasn’t been because Stamkos, St. Louis, Lecavalier and Hedman have been bad. It’s that they haven’t been able to find a replacement for Roloson.

They can’t stop teams from scoring against them and that is what worries me about the future of this Islanders team.

Am I excited that they made the playoffs? Absolutely.

Do I think they can get past any first-round opponent and make some noise in the playoffs? Absolutely.

Am I confident that the Islanders can make the playoffs consistently? No I'm not.

Evgeni Nabokov is 37 years old and will turn 38 this summer. That is what scares me and should scare every Islanders fan.

I’d love to tell you that he will get better with age and he might put up great numbers, but he’s still getting older.

He played 41 out of 48 games this season and rightfully so. The Isles needed him if they wanted to make the playoffs.

What happened in Tampa is that they haven’t been able to find the goalie to replace Roloson. The next season he showed his age and split time with Mathieu Garon. This season you can add Anders Lindback to the mix with Garon having been awful. However, the Lightning recently made a move to acquire Ben Bishop who is likely going to be a good goalie.

Who do the Islanders have?

I watched Kevin Poulin for two seasons while I worked in Bridgeport and he was great. He was a workhorse, but what has he shown at the NHL level?

He was rushed in 2010-11. He wasn’t ready and it was his first season playing professional hockey. But he played great for the Islanders in 10 games posting a 2.44 GAA before going down with a knee injury, which ended his season.

Last season in six games he went 2-4-0 with a 3.04 GAA and this season he is 1-3-0 with a 3.02 GAA.

Yes, those are sample sizes and I might be overreacting, but let's be honest; none of this concerns you?

I like Poulin; I believe he will lead the Isles out of the tunnel for years to come, but I am worried that the knee injury he suffered in ‘10-11 is still bothering him. Lucky for him he won’t be the starting goalie for at least another season, so hopefully he will be 100% by then.

I also watched Anders Nilsson last season since he spilt time with Poulin in Bridgeport. When he is on, watch out. Nilsson can easily steal a game for his team with his gigantic 220 lb. body while standing 6’5.

He didn’t miss most of this season with an injury and with Nabokov signed until the end of next season, I can’t see Nilsson being a factor for another season.

Lastly there is the $67.5 million man, Rick DiPietro.

Firstly I never got to express my opinion on this, but I will make it short. You have to be out of your mind if you, yourself wouldn’t have taken that deal. With that being said, they need to buy him out ASAP. Rip the bandage off, shake hands and call it day.

All in all it’s nice that they made the playoffs, but let’s see them do it again and again and again. Let’s hope for them to become a threat every year to make a run at the Cup.

Pete Paguaga

@PetePaguaga on Twitter


John Russo's picture

Helluva comparison and a very valid point. I think the Isle have more youth depth than that Lightning team did. But you do have a great comparison in goaltending. That could very well become a factor in the next couple years.