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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 13, 2008

Isles Speared By Sabres on Kids' Day Matinee

Islanders 1 : Sabres 7

The Dow Jones is slowly rebounding after a week of tumbling in value, gaining over 900 points in one day before the closing bell. Unfortunately, the Isles could not do the same in three periods of play, and so they collapsed in every sense of the word, falling 7-1 on a Columbus Day matinee game, also Kids' Day at Nassau Coliseum.

Down only 1-0 by the end of the first, Joey MacDonald and the Islanders still had a chance to establish their own game and get back into it. However, the Sabres were only getting started- and as the D got lost and confused, and MacDonald was caught vulnerable and less confident as time wore on, Thomas Vanek, Jochen Hecht, and the rest of the Sabres exposed every mistake for their benefit. Hecht slipped the puck through the smallest of holes behind MacDonald to start off, and over three periods the lead only grew, as Vanek (2 goals), Adam Mair, Jason Pominville, Ales Kotalik, and Craig MacArthur all poured on the offense for the Sabres.

It got to the point where, with a 5-0 lead, they provoked the Isles to start a fight that resulted in three ejections. First Nate Thompson and Mair tossed the gloves, but an unnecessary move by new captain Craig Rivet in pulling down Thompson made Sean Bergenheim (not a fighter by any means) tussle with Rivet, and then Brendan Witt got into it with Patrick Kaleta and cracked his head on the ice during a fall. He, Rivet, and Bergenheim all got tossed, with Rivet earning two game misconducts for being the third man in on the Thompson-Mair fight. All of this wouldn't help the Isles, who only got a Trent Hunter toe-drag goal in a match that did not show their disciplined side, with Buffalo scoring on 3 of 12 power play chances.

After the game, Gordon would talk about why he chose not to pull Joey MacDonald after the game became 4-0: "You can't pin it all on the goaltender. I want them to find a way to battle... I know how it feels to play for a coach with a quick hook." This is a good philosophy for the team, particularly the goalies, whose confidence can be shaken easily and who might wonder at times when they'll be pulled to make way for the backup, either for a change of momentum or simply for a break. Keeping confidence in a goaltender and encouraging him to battle through the struggle is key to keeping him in the game mentally. Plus, of course, it is a team sport- a defensive breakdown as a whole leads to disaster, not just the goaltender failing to make the save.

He also mentioned his opinion on the types of penalties the Isles were taking- "If it's not going to save a goal, don't do it... keep your stick on the ice, and keep your feet moving"- and the lack of offense- "I think the only line that generated any type of offense was the Doug Weight line [Jon Sim, Weight and Guerin]." Indeed, to start the second, the Weight line provided a very effective forecheck until the Sabres demoralized the Isles completely. Weight, along with Guerin, provided hard work and continued resilience that the younger players can definiely learn from.

Overall, however, the Isles definitely need to rebound from this, for lack of a better word, embarrassing loss, in which they were simply dominated in every way and, when they couldn't find a way to put the puck in the net, decided to resort to fighting, which didn't improve anything- in fact, it resulted in a top defender for the Isles getting tossed, along with a young forward who provided jump for the offense. On Thursday, in Tampa Bay, the Islanders would do well to keep their sticks on the ice, keep skating, and not lose their cool.

On a sadder note, New York Rangers first-round draft pick Alexei Cherepanov died of a heart attack on the bench during a KHL game earlier today. Reports say it may have been commotio cordis, a sudden disturbance of heart rhythm usually caused by blunt-force impact by a projectile to the chest. This is a terrible tragedy, and we extend our condolences to Cherepanov's family, hockey club, and the Rangers organization.


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