The 2014/15 NHL season has officially come to a close, with the Chicago Blackhawks taking home their third Stanley Cup Championship in six years. For New York Islanders fans, it was definitely a season of promise, but also one that ended without a fifth cup coming home to Long Island. And of course, now begins the long, painful waiting game until puck drop in October. With that said, let’s get to this edition of Potvin’d.
- There has been, and will continue to be a great deal of discussion with regards to whether or not the Blackhawks have reached “Dynasty” status. I’m planning on going a little more depth on the question in the near future, but allow me to provide a brief preview of my mindset on the answer; since 2008 the Hawks have been to the playoffs every year, winning three cups, two additional trips to the conference finals (and one of those ended in epic fashion against Los Angeles) and two trips to the quarterfinals (with those series going 7 and 6 games respectively). In the so called “parity” age, such results are quite impressive, and we will leave it at that until later.
- Islanders GM Garth Snow had a summer to remember last year, although his finest moves technically didn’t take place until just before the start of the regular season. His goals for this offseason should be more along the lines of adding depth at key positions, instead of the influx of new talent we saw in 2014. The Islanders don’t need to change as much as they need to improve, and I think Snow realizes that. The one burning question is if he can find, or the Islanders believe they have, a top-line winger to put alongside John Tavares. Tavares can improve anyone who plays with him, but imagine the possibilities if Tavares gets more help. The results will surely be satisfying for any Islanders fan.
- Right now, fans of the Arizona Coyotes are getting an unfortunate taste of what Islanders fans went throughprior tothe announcement of the move to Brooklyn. Everything in sports comes down to money, and that is exactly what happened this past week with regards to the City of Glendale and the Coyotes. In case you missed it, the City of Glendale essentially voted to cancel the current lease agreement they had with the Coyotes, thus creating a situation in which the franchise will most likely have to find a new home by the end of this upcoming season. The NHL was absolutely livid over the news, and it should come as no surprise to anyone this situation is quickly moving towards months and months of bitter litigation.Of course, the big losers in all of this are the fans. The NHL has tried to make hockey in the desert work for two decades now, and one could argue that they were starting to see some major results (minus, you know, the attendance). But even that big caveat is something that possibly could be rectified with the addition of a major talent, or even a handful of seasons in which the team made the playoffs. That’s asking for a lot right now, especially given the situation with regards to ownership and the actual quality of the players, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility. Rumors of a return to Phoenix have also been swirling around and this writer hopes that’s where this whole situation finds an ending.
- Islanders fans have to look at the Tampa Bay Lightning and think “This is the direction we could be headed in.” Tampa Bay impressed throughout their playoff run; it’s no easy task taking out two of the best goalies in the league, and genuinely pushing a seasoned Blackhawks squad to six games. They are young, fresh off a Cup contending run, well coached and set up for success for years to come. If the Islanders want to be held up with the best teams in the NHL, it seems that Tampa is going to be one of the biggest roadblocks standing in the way.
- Finally, I think the Cup Final demonstrated something very important for the Islanders to take note of, and feel more assured in a particular position on the team. Take note of the following three numbers; 2.43, 2.27, and 2.32. That would the GAA for Jaroslav Halak, Corey Crawford, and Ben Bishop for the 2014/15 regular season. If you want to look at Save %, Halak (.914) Crawford (.924) and Bishop (.916) are quite comparable as well. Obviously, the statistics for goalies are very context-dependant, and the numbers don’t tell the whole story. But what I think the regular season showed, as well as the playoffs, is that Halak is more than capable of being a Stanley Cup winning goalie. Corey Crawford a fine player, and there has been debate with regards to what his “legacy” will be once he leaves the Blackhawk, but a Henrik Lundqvist he is not. Then again, the King doesn’t have any rings.