The Streak Is Finally Broken
(AP) Long Island, NY - 1994 was always shaping up to be a season of brand new lows for a franchise that has spent most of its existence setting the bar increasingly higher. After the first dozen or so games, the Isles find themselves with a 3-8 record, but have surprised many with a positive goal differential, due mainly by the inspired play by journeyman goaltender Andrei Karpin, and consistent scoring output from early Calder candidate, and future superstar, Alexei Yashin. That said, their 4-3 OT loss to the once formidable Buffalo Sabres last night at the recently upgraded 19,000 seat Nassau Coliseum saw a dismal turnout of only 9,400, ending the longest streak of sellouts in the NFHL. We have to go all the way back to the 1979 regular season, when the Islanders were still the California Golden Seals, before we can find a game that didnít have fans coming out in droves to pack the place full. Including the playoffs, thatís a record that spanned 16 seasons and no less than 677 games (578 regular season and 99 playoff) - probably more, but unfortunately the game sheets going back that far have been lost to the dustbin of history; with an average attendance of 17,785/18,000 in 1979 though, itís likely that there were dozens more games to tack onto the record from the end of the season, as the team made a late season surge to get back into a playoff position.
When will the next shoe drop? Will the wheels fall off completely and see the Isles battling their cross-town Ranger "rivals" in the race to the bottom? There are still a few bright spots to keep the lights on and the fans coming out, like the rock Ďem sock Ďem play from perennial tough guy Brian Benning, who leads the team in points (2nd only to Al MacInnis in the league overall among defencemen), and has established himself among the leaders in both PIMs and hits. Or Future HOF coach Pat Burns, who always brings out the best in everyone? So even as the team continues to slip in the standings, you can count on an exciting night out from a franchise with an eye firmly on the future. You might even get a better seat than you paid for these days ;)