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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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Monday, October 27, 2008

The Difference Between Losing and Failing

Islanders 3 : Carolina 4

What a game. Much improved effort by the Isles that resulted in a cushioned loss. Although teams would prefer to have a W in their game outcome column, losing games is going happen, and at times is necessary for the greater good of the team – the larger picture of learning and building momentum which is the main outcome I’d like to see for the Isles this season. Tonight their consistent effort proved that there is a difference between losing and failing. The loss was cushioned by 60 shots taken on goal, the most shots taken in Isles history. But there was a downside to this number – 60 shots only yielded 3 goals, gave Hurricane’s Cam Ward a chance to claim 57 saves, and had to stand against Carolina taking fewer shots on goal, 28, yet still winning the game. And so tonight the Isles also proved that quantity does not always equal quality.

I showed up to the game at the beginning of the 2nd period, Carolina was up 2-0 and chatter was going about DP’s giveaway. Turned out it was Chad LaRose scoring for Carolina (3:43) after he caught DP’s attempt at clearing the puck and Rob Brind’Amour also scored for Carolina (8:49) in the 1st period from what I was told, off a rebound.

So began the 2nd period with DP not in net. I realize a back up goalie has to be prepared for anything but wonder if Joey MacDonald ever thought he would be getting this much ice time. From the sound of the crowd and comments being made around me, MacDonald sure has the support from Isles fans, and in net he seems to be holding his own overall. Freddy Meyer put the Isles on the scoreboard with his first goal of the season (3:56) after Andy Hilbert sent the puck in from behind the net. A few minutes later Nate Thompson and Nate Gleason went at it and then went to the sin bin, five minutes for fighting. Along came Freddy Meyer’s pass being picked up by Carolina’s Eric Staal that led to a breakaway goal (10:51), a wrist shot that by all means looked like it was going in before it went in. And here’s where it got a little kooky – Carolina racked up three penalties – Niclas Wallin (interference) at 12:09, Sergei Samsonov serving a slashing penalty for Cam Ward at 14:33, and Josef Melichar serving two minutes for holding at 18:08. Shots on goal during the second period were Isles 21, Carolina 7. This data would seem to build a case for the Isles scoring at least one goal on the power play but to their credit, Cam Ward did his job well and his teammates kept rebound opportunities to a minimum. Bill Guerin went into the bin for roughing as the 2nd period was about to end.

Even though the Isles were down 3-1 at the start of the 3rd period, the effort they were making made a comeback win seem possible - there was no doubt that cheering fans believed this to be true. Although nothing came of the power play when Dennis Seidenberg was in the bin for holding, a sign of hope did come when Sean Bergenheim scored a shorthanded goal (backhand, 5:45), while Mark Streit was serving two minutes for stick holding. But about two minutes later Carolina’s Chad Larose scored his second goal of the game with a wrist shot (7:11). Another power play opportunity came and went when Josef Melichar sat for tripping but all was not lost – while Ryan Bayda was in the bin for roughing, Streit scored on the power play (10:34), with a beautiful slap shot that like Staal’s goal, looked like it was going in before it went in. So there we were, Carolina 4, Isles 3 with the last minute of the game upon the Isles. And then it happened…fans who were already walking up the stairs to leave stopped to look behind them to see why the crowd was in an uproar and fans who were getting up to leave sat back down in their seats. That’s what happened when Carolina’s Tim Gleason covered the puck in the crease which led to the Isles being granted a penalty shot with seconds remaining on the clock. Quite possibly due to his having played for Carolina, Doug Weight was chosen to take the shot. I guess one could say that an advantage would be his familiarity with Ward’s style but wouldn’t then the opposite be true? – Ward’s familiarity with Weight’s? I thought the psychological aspect of the choice didn’t put the Weight at an advantage. My pick would have been Sean Bergenheim. So far this season Bergenheim seems really present on ice so that is why I would have picked him…plus he already scored on Ward why not make it two. I’m not sure what kind of shot Weight was going for but from my view it seemed like he didn’t get enough lift on the puck – it didn’t seem like the shot had enough ummph to get beyond a goalie who was coming off 3 periods of stopping shot after shot. Slice it dice it, the puck didn’t go in.

Two notes…

In the 3rd period Doug Weight checked Brandon Sutter as Sutter was reaching for the puck while committing the ice hockey no-no of having his head down. This caused Sutter to fall down and go boom – unconscious it appeared although he left the ice on his own two skates, questionable though is if he knew what year it was. Yeah I get it, this is a contact sport and fighting is a part of the game but what is being called a ‘clean hit’ doesn’t seem clean at all. Maybe I’m a wuss when it comes to these kinds of things or totally lack the hockey acumen to understand the place this kind of ‘clean hit’ has in the game. The way I see it is that these guys have fathers, mothers, siblings, wives, children and so on – people who depend on them outside of hockey. Potentially ending someone’s career or even worse causing permanent physical harm doesn’t have a place in the game. Now it’s put to anticipating if there will be any retaliation actually not if but what kind of retaliation towards Weight there will be the next time these two teams meet. And with too many Isles out as it is, can the Isles afford another player on the injured list?

Captain Bill 'Papa Bear' Guerin has finally won me over, yeah I know he’d been losing sleep over this. Last season his on ice demeanor perplexed me but this season he is defining his role with clear boundaries. A captain is someone I want to be able to look to for a reaction when something goes down with his team – my eyes automatically seeking him out – now they do. This is not to say he hasn’t served his teammates in the past but something seems different in the leadership vibe he is emitting.

Next up is the Rangers. Like their fans, the team is as significant as you make them out to be.


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