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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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Sunday, March 30, 2008

It's the Philadelphia Blues For Isles

Flyers 4: Islanders 3 (SO)

If any adjective in the English language could be used to describe last night's loss at Nassau Coliseum, it would be one that the formal journalist- or even the respectable blogger, for that matter- would not use in context.

As it is, a more appropriate word couldn't be found to match the feeling that no doubt came over Isles fans as they watched Isle-killer Daniel Briere slip the puck past Wade Dubielewicz in crunch time of the shootout to give the Philadelphia Flyers the win they'd needed like a model needs a manicure; a 4-3 win that kept them in the final playoff spot and red-hot Washington at bay on the outside of the playoff picture.

The Isles had plenty of fight despite being largely dominated in this game; in the first period, they maintained puck possession while being outhit by the Flyers, and took a 1-0 lead on a shot by Richard Park, who gladly put away a bad puckhandling attempt by goaltender Antero Niittymaki. Chance after chance was given to the Isles- Steve Regier, Sean Bergenheim, Blake Comeau, and Kyle Okposo each had lucrative shots at putting the puck in- but other than the Park goal, that was all for the first.

The second was by and large the Wade Dubielewicz show, which would go on throughout the rest of the game; the Flyers had the first eight shots of the period, all of which he would stop, some of them spectacularly. Then came Blake Comeau, the youngster, who capped off a beautiful passing play with a goal at 7:43 (his first goal at the Coliseum, eighth overall). Richard Park had an assist on that goal, and a strong night overall, which very well suited the winner of the Bob Nystrom Award.

But the Flyers wouldn't quit. Late in the second, Daniel Briere scored on the PP (a lazy hook by Bryan Berard, who got outskated for the puck), and then early in the third, Joffrey Lupul would score his first in nine games since coming back from his ankle sprain, to tie the game up. The Flyers were swarming and shooting with abandon, firing 54 shots at Dubielewicz, who stopped 51 in an outstanding showing. However, his defense was sub-par on the last two Philly goals- the Lupul one, and then, with a Frans Nielsen rocket putting the Isles up 3-2, on a Mike Richards net-crasher at 15:38 of the third. Richards, who is Philly's Mr. Clutch and the incumbent captain of the squad, had two assists plus the tying goal.

Overtime turned from the Dubie show to the Okposo show- the winger tried valiantly to produce the game-winner for the Islanders, as he snagged rebound after rebound and tried to will them past Niittymaki, who stood tall, as well as receiving defensive support. The PP that the Isles received went nowhere, as the Isles passed it away and had prime shooting opportunities wasted, until Okposo tried crashing the net.

The shootout ensued, and Ted Nolan's shooting choices raised this blogger's eyebrows, as he chose two youngsters- Nielsen and Okposo- as well as Park. You gotta love the coach for looking at his youngers players, but with a point up for grabs, perhaps it would have been more prudent to put more seasoned shooters in to win it. As it was, none of the shooters scored for the Islanders, and Dubielewicz was almost perfect, stopping Richards and Jeff Carter before Briere, appropriately, won it for the Flyers. 15,223 fans went home, most of them disappointed- unless you discount Flyers fans, or perhaps even the ones who are looking forward to the 2008 Draft.

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