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A blog by a long time New York Islanders fan who stays true to the fellas wearing orange, white and blue…but thinks the Islanders organization has some shaping up to do.

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Friday, March 28, 2008

Islanders Frustrate Pens Early, But Not For Long

Islanders 1: Penguins 3

Wade Dubielewicz, in his Monday start against Pittsburgh at home, looked like a man in control of himself in his 28-save performance, a 4-1 effort by the Isles. Last night, the opposite happened.

Although he made 26 saves, Dubielewicz played further away from the zone of confidence he'd found on Monday as the game progressed. The offense and penalties taken didn't help, and when all was said and done, a 1-1 tie turned into a 3-1 loss for the Isles, their seventh in ten games.

It started with Evgeni Malkin, who is tailing Ovechkin for the highest point total in the league. He stated his case early, with his 45th of the season, which put the Pens up 1-0. On that play was a blatant non-call- interference by Georges Laraque on Aaron Johnson. However, the referees weren't the sharpest this time around- and the feistiness was on full display.

As the cameras rolled, we saw quite a few tussles throughout the 60 minutes. Miro Satan and Petr Sykora got into a wrestling match, and quite a few hits created scrums along the boards, including a Maxime Talbot cruncher on Tim Jackman. Josef Vasicek tied the score up with his 15th on the season, and the Isles carried a portion of the play from there, but in this game they were largely outworked despite managing the tie. It's an understandable fact- they are missing tons of starters (only seven players on the opening night roster for October 5 are currently in the lineup) and they are not playing for a playoff berth any longer. However, these cannot be excuses forever.

First mistake the Isles made? Well, it has a name, and it's Jarkko Ruutu. You can perhaps call him the European Sean Avery- he's a yapping Chihuahua in a Pens jersey, and he was on last night. After Ruutu took a terrible dive in the third, Aaron Johnson lost his cool and dropped the gloves, going after him. Ruutu was at his most annoying, but also at his smartest- he stood and grinned like a joker while Johnson made his way to the box. That could have been the opportunity for the Isles to get a PP, had Johnson simply explained the matter to the linesman instead of trying to intimidate a pest who won't be so dumb. Ruutu had a goal and two assists last night, and the ire of likely the whole Islanders team.

Second, they had chances that no one finished on- all on a goaltender (Marc-Andre Fleury) who tends to overplay the puck. Next to Dubielewicz last night, Fleury looked like an All-Star simply because no one was there to crash the net and overwhelm him. Conversely, the defense was beat early, and by two fourth liners (Ruutu and Laraque, who got past Bryan Berard and flipped the puck past a very jumpy Dubielewicz) as well as Malkin. Also a problem, but one that will likely not be resolved any time soon, was the penalties, which I've mentioned all the time- just don't take them.

The best forward on the ice for the Isles was Sean Bergenheim. With no less than 7 shots on goal, he was his usual hardworking, energetic self, and it showed on a team that just couldn't get anything done offensively save for the backhand goal from Vasicek. Bergenheim would also get a roughing penalty after accidentally running into an oblivious Marian Hossa, who suffered a knee tweak as a result (FSN's Final Score would later, very incorrectly report this as a hit from behind, which it was not- hits are intentional, collisions are accidents). Brooks Orpik should also have gotten a penalty for charging at Bergenheim.

Sidney Crosby, in the lineup for the first time in two months, wasn't much of a factor. But then again, he didn't have to be. Malkin has become hot in his absence, and his offense, as well as the pesky fourth-liners', was enough for the Pens to pull out the much-needed win.

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