The power of positive thinking can only take you so far.
Up until Monday night's game against the Rangers I'd been trying to convince myself that the Islanders season won't be as bad as everyone thinks it will be. A playoff appearance may not be likely, but I thought that maybe these young players will come together in Scott Gordon's new system, and maybe some of the veterans will feed off the mojo, and we'll all be pleasantly surprised.
But, like Carl Spackler in Caddyshack telling the bishop in the midst of a torrential rainstorm, "I don't think the heavy stuff is coming down for a while," I think I've been deluding myself. Because all signs are pointing to a long season.
Start with Rick DiPietro, who really is injured. His situation was clarified somewhat by the team, which explained that the fragile goalie has a "lower body injury unrelated to his previous injuries" and is "day to day." So maybe it's his knee but not the same injury, maybe it's a groin, maybe it's a quadricep pull -- your guess is as good as anyone's.
What's clear is that DiPietro hasn't been 100 percent all season, is coming off multiple surgeries, and is now on the shelf for an undetermined amount of time. And this is the guy who was supposed to be the glue holding everything together. Yeesh.
And he's not the only one hurt. Half of the team's defensemen are out, continuing the injury bug that sunk the squad last year. Mix in the struggles of learning a new system and you're looking at another lottery pick (which is what many fans want, anyway).
That's not to say that the Islanders played poorly Monday night. In fact, they played pretty well and even outplayed the Rangers for a good portion of the contest. Kyle Okposo in particular had a standout game, scoring his first goal of the season. The kid was all over the place. Trent Hunter, Richard Park and Mark Streit also had very solid games.
Joey MacDonald also played well, undone by a couple of bad breaks. The Rangers' first goal went in off the stick of Bill Guerin, a luck bounce found Ryan Callahan, and another deflected shot went right to Scott Gomez at the side of the net. Sloppy stick control gave the Rangers a 5-on-3 and led to their fourth goal.
Otherwise, the Islanders played hard and had plenty of good scoring chances, but couldn't finish, which of course is a big problem. Along with the injured defensemen. And DiPietro, who could be back in a couple of days. Or weeks. Or months. Who knows?
Again, there was a lot to like Monday night. But the end result was another loss, the team's fourth in five games at home.
Play hard and lose. Not exactly the most effective marketing slogan.
As far as the third jersey is concerned, I wasn't sure how I felt about it at first glance. Okay, it's a throwback to the old days, and we know the Islanders are all about celebrating the past. So in a sense it's not too exciting. Then again, did we want something ridiculous? Or something with the lighthouse on the chest?
The more I looked, the more I liked. It's retro. I decided I would possibly buy one. So I guess it works.