Interesting stuff from Chris Botta of the New York Times on a potential Islanders coaching change:
This shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. Capuano’s at the helm of a team that’s 2-9-3 in its last 14, lost its last two by a combined score of 11-0 and hasn’t scored in seven-plus periods. Capuano also made the bizarre decision to start rookie netminder Anders Nilsson against Pittsburgh last night — the 21-year-old (who had just 40 minutes of NHL experience coming in) looked completely overwhelmed.
“To throw Nilsson to the wolves in his first NHL start was borderline manic,” wrote ESPN’s Scott Burnside. “Hello, Charles Wang, your team has left the building.”
In Capuano’s defense, he might’ve simply ran out of ways to send a message. He’s gone the healthy scratch route (with Kyle Okposo), gone the bag skate route, gone the “rip my team mercilessly to the media” route and even gone the midnight-meeting-after-a-blowout-loss-to-Boston route.
None of them worked, so why not start Nilsson?
Answer: Because when you’re dangerously close to getting fired, you don’t want to suffer a blowout loss.
This harkens back to last season when, after a 4-10-3 start to the season, Snow fired Scott Gordon and replaced him with Capuano. The tipping point was an equally disturbing defeat — a 5-1 drubbing in Los Angeles where the Isles were out-shot 34-19 — which then-Isles captain Doug Weight called “pathetic.” The next day, Gordon was gonzo.
Now consider what forward Frans Nielsen told Newsday following Monday’s loss:
“We just don’t compete hard enough — that’s a basic thing. We talk system, blah blah blah, gotta do this, do that, but it comes down to outworking the other team. If you do that, good things will happen. We’re losing so many one-on-one battles out there.”