Hopes for 2009

TheDriveForFive's picture

While most of the league and it’s relentless bloggers and pit bull pundits say the Islanders don’t have a shot in hell this season of making the playoffs, I think the Islanders will be competitive and fun to watch regardless. Considering that, I thought I’d share a few of my hopes for the upcoming season.

Five Things I want to see:

1- Kyle Okposo’s continued development-

During the offseason, I chatted with hockey writer Ross Bernstein and the best damn play-by-play guy in NHL history, Jiggs McDonald about KO and they both seemed sure he’d come into camp ready to thrive. I too believe he’ll be a bit bigger and should be ready light the lamp a good 25 times. If he hits 30, that alone would make me happy regardless of where they finish this season.

2- Jeff Tambellini solidifying a role on the team-

That doesn’t mean fourth line pest of healthy scratch either. Two years ago, there was a stretch of about 12 games when he finally got the ice time he needed to thrive. If he gets it again and can pot a few easy ones early in the season, he may have the confidence needed to finally ditch the “prospect” label that has been stamped on his back the past three seasons.

3- Bill Guerin and Doug Weight having solid seasons-

If both of these guys can get 50 points this season, I would be absolutely thrilled. Guerin was close last season while playing with an inconsistent Mike Comrie and if Weight can forget about being reduced to a depth player last season with the Ducks, they both may have one last hoorah in them. Not only would that take some of the pressure off the rookies, it would increase their values as free agents at the end of the season and give the Islanders a continued opportunity to build through the draft…if they felt obligated.

4- Chris Campoli and Mark Streit both become factors on the powerplay-

We all know Streit is going to be asked to net anywhere from six to ten powerplay markers this season, but Campoli, who had 11 of his 18 points with the man advantage before injuring his shoulder last season, will be asked to step his game up as well. If he’s completely healthy, I’d love to see him either with Streit or anchoring the second unit and proving the 34 points he scored his rookie season was just the beginning of what will be a solid NHL career.

5- Rick DiPietro stays healthy all season-

No knee injuries, no problems with his hip, just straight-shootin’, cocky and convinced all-season long. If he watches the way he plays the puck and plays smart, he can single-handedly guide this team to an unsuspected playoff birth. Don’t think so? Guess we’ll just have to wait and see.