The New York Islanders’ breakout stretch was inevitable; it’s now a matter of sustaining it with new sparkling head coach Doug Weight.
Back in November, with the Islanders struggling to string together wins, general manager Garth Snow reaffirmed his support for his squad.
“The great part about when you face adversity, [you see] who rises to the top,” Snow said. “Although it doesn’t always feel easy for our fans, when you go through adversity, it’s a great challenge and I always look forward to see who rises to that challenge, and it doesn’t matter whether it’s a player, coaches, staff … we’re all in this together and I’ve got a lot of belief in everyone in that room.”
This ‘tude could have saved Snow’s job; since appointing Doug Weight to the head coaching position, the Isles have catapulted from last place in the Eastern Conference to within striking distance of its final wild card spot.
This has baffled fans who thought their team was dead in the water. It’s particularly confounding considering that the once fledgling team — complete with a goaltending controversy, coaching change and off-ice debacle — has been the league’s best club over the past two weeks.
Actually, it shouldn’t be too surprising.
In hockey, you’re never as good as you look, and you’re never as bad as you look, either.
The Isles’ demoralizing start — as well as their recent resurgence — is a product of the league’s Jekyll and Hyde nature. Sure, not every team struggles the way the Isles did, but every single team — bar none — struggles at certain points.
It’s happened in Philadelphia, where the Broad Street Bullies couldn’t sustain an early-season hot streak and went on a prolonged slump. Even the second-place Blue Jackets have went through some struggles; they’ve recently had their fair share of troubles beating playoff-bound teams.
The facts are clear: there’s no sport that demands as much chemistry as hockey. This breeds inconsistency. It’s the teams that can ride their hot streaks for the longest periods of time that typically fare the best.
Here’s the thing: the Isles’ breakout was inevitable. Of course, it didn’t always seem that way. Those who kept faith were ridiculed for drinking the ‘Kool-aid,’ a term analogous to retaining unfounded optimism.
But it’s a streak sport, and for all its ugh! moments there sure are a lot of redeeming ones.
It will be intriguing to see how long the Isles can sustain this success for. The team could carry this momentum all the way to the postseason — maybe even win a round or two while they’re at it.
But if history is any indication, fans better buckle up, because they’re in for one helluva bumpy ride.