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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, October 19, 2008

DiPietro Back in Net, But Isles Fall Flat

Islanders 0 : Panthers 2

Prior to this game, Tomas Vokoun had been rocked in the crease by the Minnesota Wild, allowing four goals against in 39 minutes of play. One would have hoped that, based on that performance, the opposing offense would have taken advantage yet again and thrown 4 or past him.

Instead, however, the Islanders gave Vokoun a huge break.

Without a pure goalscorer, the Isles (2-3-0) need all hands on deck each night on offense to ensure a win, but that didn't happen last night, as they were blanked 2-0 at Bankatlantic Center, stretching the Panthers' winning streak to five games over this season to date and last year. On the Panthers, Nick Boynton scored on a crossbar shot from Keith Ballard only 24 seconds in, as the Isles were caught completely unawares on defense, and then at 8:48 of the second, Nathan Horton, attracting four Isles to him, passed to a wide-open Cory Stillman on the PP to make it 2-0. That would be all they needed, as even Bill Guerin's six shots, Kyle Okposo's four, and a scattered amount of chances by Jeff Tambellini were unable to sneak past Vokoun.

The quality of shots taken by the Isles and Panthers were decidedly different from each other, in that Florida found ways to get past DiPietro (34 saves in a solid effort after the 24-second hiccup), and the Isles elected to make it easy for Vokoun, no thanks to the aggressive Panthers D either. Also, while the Panthers put the body on early and often, the Isles were hesitant and almost content to let the other team push them around and get to the puck. This is a team that always, always finds a way to win against us no matter what their record may be, and that means we need to shut them down at all costs, particularly their hot buttons on offense- Horton and David Booth, who are consistent "Islander-killers." Instead, the Isles seemed to pass up good opportunities to do so.

Now, with a four-day break in between last night and Thursday's home game against Dallas, the Isles have to regroup and come out strong against Marty Turco, Sean Avery and Mike Modano. The penalties also were of no help to them in this game, and it's almost, as Howie Rose mentioned, a trick of relearning what you can and cannot do in this no-longer "new" NHL. No matter what it may be, the Isles have to learn fast if they want to succeed. Scott Gordon's "shooters-first" mentality is proving to be a good idea, but if they pass up on the best plays, it might all be for naught.

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