“The important thing in life is not the triumph, but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered, but to have fought well.”- Baron de Coubertin, founder of the International Olympic Committee.
These words should have a special significance for fans of the New York Islanders these days.
Five different Ottawa Senators scored last night to lead the club to a 5-2 victory over the Islanders. Dany Heatley, Chris Neil, Filip Kuba, Mike Fisher and Nick Foligno all bulged the twine at the back of the net to ensure the win. New York's first round pick from last year, Josh Bailey, tallied twice for the Islanders.
As stated above, Islander fans shouldn't be disheartened that the winning streak has ended and the team is back to it's losing ways once more. There's a difference between “losing with dignity” and “losing in a dishonorable fashion”. An example of the latter would be the recent behavior of the Phoenix Coyotes. The number of excellent players on their Healthy Scratch list has been despicable and should really be investigated by the league as an obvious attempt to tank games in order to finish with a better draft spot. One would think that a team led by the great Wayne Gretzky would exhibit a bit more pride than that.
However, though the Islanders have lost their past two games, no such charges could be levied against them. This ensemble of young kids and a few gritty vets has fought hard each and every step of the way since the trade deadline passed on March 4. They experienced a brief spurt of winning during that time which gave them confidence and energy. These kids don't give a hoot about draft position….they're in it to win every game. That is, after all, the way it should be. Why would someone like Jeff Tambellini, for instance, give less than total effort when there are guys lining up to replace him? They have played with pride and should be commended for it.
It's not as if this effort hasn't produced any results, either. Bailey played a fine game last night and continues to develop, a welcome sign as the fanbase was split over whether or not he may have been served better by playing in the OHL this year instead of with the big club. Kyle Okposo, a huge part of the club's future, is currently riding an eight game point streak and is closing in on the 20 goal mark, a notable achievement. Though young goaltender Yann Danis played poorly last night, he is sporting a sub -3.00 Goals Against Average for the month of March and may have secured the backup job for himself next year (presuming that franchise goaltender Rick Dipietro is healthy enough to be the starter.) These are all positives that fans need to account for.
The Islanders next play against the Minnesota Wild, a team that has lost four out of it's last five games and was just pasted by the New Jersey Devils, 4-0. They need this game in order to stay in the playoff race, but they'll find that victory will not come easy against these new and (many would argue) improved Islanders.
They have embraced the struggle and they are fighting well.
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Written by Frank Mazzola