Welcome to the NYIslesScene!

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.

Islanders 2014-15 Season Mantra

Try not. Do...or do not.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

What I'm Thankful For- Islanders Style

-funny quotes.
- breakaway shots.
-glove saves.
-Joey MacDonald, the new cult hero.
- Scott Gordon's ties- can't deny the guy can dress.
- Doug Weight on the PP.
- Richard Park's PK.
- Andy Hilbert on pace to score 20 this year?!
- the shootout.
- Witt and Sutton, shot blockers extraordinaire.
- Ryan O'Byrne (LOL... juust kidding).
- Howie Rose and Billy Jaffe's broadcasts.
- the "Billy's Breakdown" segment- and him answering my email!
- Chris Campoli's OT winner (both of them).
- text messages with my co-blogger Christine, and having a partner-in-crime like her. Much love and thanks for being so awesome. Here's to the rest of the season!


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Lady Luck Grants Isles Two Points

Islanders 4: Canadiens 3 (SO)

Ryan O'Byrne definitely spent a sleepless night somewhere in Montreal, asking himself just why he made the mistake.

Anyone would have lost some shuteye after shooting the puck accidentally into their own net.

O'Byrne made the crucial error on a delayed penalty call, with goaltender Carey Price on the bench for the extra skater. With pressure mounting from Doug Weight, he inadvertently backhanded the puck toward the net, and scored a goal... for the other team.

That goal tied the game 3-3, carried it to overtime and then the shootout, where Richard Park and Bill Guerin capitalized, and stole two points for the Islanders (9-10-2), who seem to win lately even when they do everything wrong.

The Isles struck first blood on the power play, with Richard Park shooting a laser through traffic, but the Isles defense coughed it right back up 17 seconds later, with Begin storming through and getting the redirection. Then, Josh Georges scored his first as a Hab on the power play, putting Montreal up 2-1, at 9:58 of the first. To begin the second, another Montreal goal by Maxime Lapierre rendered the Isles- supposedly- down for the count, with the rowdy Canadiens faithful bearing witness. That was, until Trent Hunter scored another PP goal (his 8th), and then the fatal goal by Ryan O'Byrne (which was credited to first Bergenheim, and then Guerin). In the shootout, Carey Price wasn't fast enough for Park or Guerin, while Alex Tanguay and Andre Kostitsyn were both stoned by MacDonald, a proclaimed cult hero at this point, in his 11th straight start. And the nightmares for O'Byrne began, as he headed off the ice with his teammates, with his own team's fans chanting derisively, his name pounding in his ears.

Although the Islanders scored twice on the power play, they also committed tons of penalties, leading a stately parade to the penalty box that thankfully did not end in complete disaster. Joey MacDonald (23 saves) was as lucky as he was good, getting breaks from the post and some help from Doug Weight, who knocked the puck away with his stick as it bounced behind the goalie. Weight also had two assists on the night, extending his points streak and having earned 21 points in 21 games. All in all, as behind as they were, the fortune the Islanders had last night to earn two points instead of one, or none, is unbelievable, and they come home to face Pittsburgh tomorrow night having won five of their last six games.


Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Solid Rebound Vs. Sabres

Islanders 4: Sabres 2

Something must have gotten through on the plane ride to Buffalo.

One night after getting drubbed by the Devils, 4-2, the Islanders reversed the tables on the Sabres last night, winning by the same score and getting their fourth win in five games. Captain Bill Guerin, who earlier had lashed out about Mike Mottau's two-game suspension for hitting Frans Nielsen, scored the game-winner, and Mark Streit had an empty netter in the closing seconds, sending thousands of Sabres fans, no doubt hoping for another smackdown, home dejected.

The Islanders came out strong in the first, with Andy Hilbert scoring on a wrist shot at 14:20, but allowed a late goal by rookie Mark Mancari on a nice setup that Joey MacDonald (35 saves) had no chance on. Then in the second, Jon Sim scored his fifth on the power-play, on a tip-in assisted by Streit and Chris Campoli on what was the only goal of the period, although the Isles were outshot 18-2. Finally, Guerin put the Isles up for good, and although Derek Roy scored to cut the lead to 3-2, a Buffalo penalty squashed any chance of a man-up situation by way of pulling the goaltender, and the Isles pulled off the quality win.

Now, they look to Monday night, and the Montreal Canadiens, who have a raucous home crowd. As it was, they brought troops with them when they came to the Island, so if that is any implication of just how dedicated Habs fans are, the Isles should pack some earplugs.

Notes: Nielsen will be out for 8-12 weeks (leg)... the Isles are 3-0-0 in the back end of back-to-back games this year...Jeremy Colliton was recalled from Bridgeport to replace Nielsen, and led with five hits.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Islanders Become Devils' Advocate at the Rock

Islanders 2: Devils 3

Three is not the Isles' lucky number.

After a three-game winning streak and three days of no formal competition, they came upon the Rock hoping to start off their three-game, four-night road stint on the right foot. But the Devils had other plans, and steamrolled the Isles to win their third straight- by three goals.

Moreover, the Islanders have now lost another third of their "kid" line, if you will, with Frans Nielsen going down at the cheapshot of Mike Mottau, a hit that should be reviewed by Colin Campbell. Review or not, however, the fact remains that New York flatlined once again, for one reason or another. In the first period, they allowed two late goals ten seconds apart- one a redirection by David Clarkson, the other a tip-in by Travis Zajac. Although Joey MacDonald made some nice saves, including a beauty of a glove save on Dainius Zubrus, he would no doubt like to have had some more help in front of him, as the D got caught looking a ton, and therefore chasing the play more than actually staying with it. Meanwhile, Kevin Weekes was solid in his first start in nine days (a multiple of three!), despite being 1-3-0 previously this year. Even Brendan Witt's return to the lineup after missing 12 games (3 times 4?) due to injury couldn't save the Isles from themselves.

In the second period, Andy Hilbert scored a long-range goal that floated past Weekes and cut the lead in half, but Bryce Salvador got it back just as quickly, sending the packed Prudential Center into overdrive. Two more goals- one a perfectly-positioned rebound by Sean Bergenheim, and the other a crease-crasher credited to Brian Gionta- made the score 4-2 before the second closing horn sounded.

Then came the third, and the hit- Mottau went for Nielsen's head, catching him with his elbow and what looked like the butt-end of his stick, and as Nielsen fell back, his right skate caught in a rut in the ice, giving him a leg injury to go with the initial head injury. Trent Hunter jumped to defend his linemate, earning him a game misconduct for instigating, and a few minutes later, simultaneous Mark Streit and Chris Campoli penalties gave the Devils the cherry on top; although MacDonald made saves, he couldn't overcome both defensemen, Witt and Andy Sutton, losing their sticks, and Paul Martin capitalized.

This morning, NHL.com reported that Mottau received a two-game suspension for the elbow to Nielsen. We'll let you make of that what you will. For now, however, the Isles need to focus on their upcoming game tonight against the Buffalo Sabres, and not making this game a rematch of the 7-1 drubbing they received at home on Kids' Day earlier this season.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Isles Stop Canucks In Mid-Flight

Canucks 1: Islanders 2 (SO)

According to the Vancouver media, this was supposed to be a no-contest.

Well, let's hope no one placed a large sum of money on that assumption.

In truth, the Islanders brought plenty of their game over the second and third periods, defeating the Canucks 2-1 off a pretty backhander from Frans Nielsen in the shootout and making a statement to trounce all other statements last night.

Firefighter Appreciation Night saw Joey MacDonald douse the fire that is the Vancouver offense, which got things done the way they wanted to in the first, cycling the puck and getting plenty of chances. Pavol Demitra slapped the puck in from the point to make it 1-0 only 49 seconds in, but otherwise, MacDonald rebounded extremely well, once again doing all he could to keep the puck out of the net, as well as getting some help from the posts and his defense and penalty killers. The period ended 1-0, but the Islanders got things started well in the second, getting more of a presence in on the forecheck and cashing in on a power-play 3:54 in, thanks to Doug Weight (his 4th, and extending his point streak; Weight now has points in ten of the Isles' 13 PP goals).

There were a couple of flip-flops during the game; Sean Bergenheim displayed some very good defensive play, while Andy Sutton jumped in on offense with quite a bit of prowess. Also, Tim Jackman seems to be coming into his own now, crashing the net and getting a few chances against red-hot goaltender Roberto Luongo (34 saves last night), who has 5 shutouts on this season and had been 4-0-1 in his last five starts (.59 GAA, .979%). When the shootout arrived, Scott Gordon's choices clearly showed just how much focus he is giving young Josh Bailey, as he was the second shooter to face Luongo. First, however, was Nielsen, whose shootout goal in only his first NHL game lifted the Isles over the Toronto Maple Leafs last year; likewise, his was the only shot to get past Luongo, and it turned out to be enough, as Kyle Wellwood, Demitra, and Alex Burrows were all denied by MacDonald, who made 31 saves.

Surely by this moment, if not during overtime, the media up North was chewing on their pens with worry, and today had some explaining to do concerning their strong understatement of the Islanders, who now have a three-game winning streak.


Notes: Brendan Witt is inching closer to a return, but Kyle Okposo is out with an arm injury he sustained in last night's game. More info to follow...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Twice Is Nice Vs. Ottawa

Senators 2: Islanders 3

It seems as though the Isles may finally be waking from their stupor.

Though still at the bottom of the Atlantic Division (6-9-2, 14 pts), they have managed to pull off two convincing wins against Ottawa, who is seemingly not the team they were last year (also 6-9-2, 14). Last night, the Isles once again scored three goals, and Joey MacDonald once again was calm, cool and collected, as they held off the Senators 3-2 at Nassau Coliseum.

The game started with Darryl Strawberry dropping the puck for Autism Awareness Night, and the first period ended up scoreless, although the Senators dominated in shots and pushing on the forecheck, as would be expected after a chewing out by their GM and a three-game losing streak. MacDonald made some great saves, including a dandy glove save on (I believe) Dany Heatley and also a blocker save with traffic in front. Over the last few games he has displayed some very good positioning, playing at the top of his crease, attacking the puck, and also great ability to see the puck well through screens. Also, Josh Bailey, in his third NHL game, seems to be comfortable, especially playing with good friend Kyle Okposo and on the same line as another young player, Jeff Tambellini. Bailey handed off a nice feed to Okposo which would have been a goal, save for Alex Auld, who made 28 saves this game.

In the second period, the Isles scored twice, once early on a dirty goal by Sean Bergenheim, who stuffed in a rebound on a Doug Weight shot. Ottawa continued their penalty trend of last game, and the Isles capitalized once more, as Jon Sim crashed the net and threw the puck and himself into the net for a PP goal. The Isles showed some creativity with the puck- something that was missing from last year and the last few games, even- and executed some nice passing plays that were only thwarted by Auld. The Isles also were able to even up the shot total a little more with Ottawa, outshooting them by a wide margin in the second period.

In the third, the Islanders added to their lead with Chris Campoli's third of the season, a pretty placement shot above the glove of Auld which he never saw coming, because of a screen from his own players. However, the Sens would get closer as the Isles became increasingly undisciplined, with first Bill Guerin (his second penalty) and then Andy Sutton going in back to back, giving Dany Heatley his 10th goal on a snap shot in front of MacDonald, and then Jason Spezza his sixth of the year on assists from Heatley and Chris Kelly. However, that would be all for Ottawa, who dropped their fourth straight; meanwhile, the Isles swept their only home-and-home series of the season, and Joey Mac got the first star of the game on his 38-save performance. Tomorrow night, East and West clash again, as the red-hot Vancouver Canucks, fresh off a 4-2 win against Toronto, come to the Island. Expect there to be a shootout.

Notes: Doug Weight had his team leading 12th assist of the year on Bergenheim's goal and played 20+ minutes of ice time... Thomas Pock's suspension gave Radek Martinek plenty of room to skate in his first game back since injuring his shoulder, and he had a respectable 17:00 ice time.... Trent Hunter had six shots on goal... Also, Brendan Witt may be on his way back in a couple of games! Keep an eye out for number 32.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Joey Mac, PK the Ones to Beat In Ottawa

Islanders 3: Senators 1

With both recent and past history against them, one would expect the Islanders to have trouble against a team like the Ottawa Senators, who have faced some rough times as of late but have found the Isles easy to beat. However, much to fans' relief, it seems as though the Sens have bigger problems with themselves.

The Isles did what they needed to after losing to the Flyers 3-1, pelting backup goalie Alex Auld with shots and winning by the same score. Jason Spezza's scoring woes continued, as he tried doing too much to make plays and the Isles' D converged around him many a time, and for Ottawa as a whole, the transition process to a new coaching system continues, while the Isles despite their miserable record at Scotiabank Place (3-16-4) did everything right for the first time in days, making Scott Gordon a happy coach indeed.

The Isles did allow an early goal yet again in the first period, on a PP goal by Filip Kuba after a bad penalty taken by Sean Bergenheim. This came after a very good shift by the Isles in which they generated chances and took the first six shots of the game, all of them around the midsection of Auld. Then, two Ottawa penalties in a row caused the Isles to have two PP chances, and Kyle Okposo, yelling for the puck, made good on the second one, scoring his second career power play goal and second of the season, on which Josh Bailey got his first NHL point. Call it "poetic justice," as Howie Rose did- Okposo had drawn the penalty on Christoph Schubert in the first place. Also check out Bailey receiving more time on the PP- he seems to be comfortable playing on a line with Okposo.

Joey MacDonald hadn't been tested much in the first period, but he flashed the pads and showed his aggressive style of play later on, as the Senators started to cook. In the end, he made 29 saves, many of them spectacular, as he showed the consistent level of play that he has had since after his and the Isles' poor showing against the Buffalo Sabres in October. This kind of play has been exactly what the team has needed, especially with Rick DiPietro out with his injury. Although his record is 5-5-2, that doesn't necessarily underscore his ability in net; believe it or not, he is not the reason that the Isles have been inconsistent, but he has very much been one of the reasons why they won this game.

The penalty kill was also outstanding for the Islanders, not allowing many shots, and clearing fast and easily. A Spezza penalty for holding was called at 16:16, and Trent Hunter scored his team-leading 7th on the season on the power-play 1:15 afterward, unassisted. Although the Isles steadily became undisciplined, that wouldn't put an end to their chances: shorthanded, Sean Bergenheim and Richard Park came zipping down the left side on Auld, and Bergenheim's shot was saved. If Park had been on the right shot, he could've grabbed the rebound and smoked it past the goaltender.

An early goal by Bill Guerin on a nice feed from Doug Weight (who else?) put the Isles up 3-1 in the third, and head coach Craig Hartsburg couldn't have been happy with the way his team was playing or the amount of penalties they were committing. Moreover, the Isles chose this game to play well enough to preserve their usually precarious third-period lead; MacDonald was brilliant in net, and the penalty kill (Andy Sutton and Richard Park especially) made great moves and gave up the body. However, late in the third, Thomas Pock took a nasty and unnecessary penalty- a five-minute major for an elbow to the head of Ryan Shannon, that knocked Shannon out and left him with a concussion. NHL.com reports that upon his hearing and reviewing the play, Pock will be suspended for five games without pay for his actions. He will be able to return November 26 against Pittsburgh, leaving a roster spot open for an almost-ready-to-play Radek Martinek, recovered from his shoulder injury.

However, aside from that blemish, this was a good win for the Isles, one that they needed to snap their three-game skid, and one that may even carry over into Saturday's game on the Island. It will be interesting to see how Ottawa will respond to their loss, and especially after their uninspired play last night.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Power Play... or Mission Impossible?

Flyers 3: Islanders 1

Neither of these teams came for the opening faceoff this afternoon with brilliant records; the Islanders have only managed one point in 2 games that they could have won, whereas the Flyers had dropped three in a row. But the latter team had something the former did not: a goaltender who'd won 7 straight against them, and a sniper by the name of Daniel Briere.

Briere broke a virtual stalemate at 13:40 of the second period after four Philadelphia penalties- including two 5-on-3 chances- that the Isles failed to capitalize on. Then, despite four more power play chances for the Isles, and great saves by Joey MacDonald (29), Mike Richards scored shorthanded to put the Flyers up 2-0 in the third period. (Remember, the Isles are unfortunately not the only ones to score a lot of shorties this season- now the Flyers also have six on the year.) Although Trent Hunter cut the lead in half on a turnover late, key saves by Martin Biron (35) and an empty-netter by Kimmo Timonen sealed the deal, and the Isles are sent reeling, having gone winless in their last three games and clearly having let play slip from their hands into the capable hands of the Flyers, who have fared well against them in past matches.

Unfortunately, it doesn't get any easier for the Islanders on Saturday, where they face off against the Ottawa Senators. They manhandled the Flyers 4-1 in their last meeting, lost a close one to Carolina 2-1, and as of this posting were being skated all over by the Canadiens, 4-0, so clearly they are a team that can go either way in any given game- however, they have a good record against the Islanders, and with their potent offensive talent, the Isles would do well to keep out of the penalty box, shut down their offense completely, and generate a good forecheck of their own for good measure. And please- please- in these next few days, work on the power play! Aggressive forecheck and moving the puck well are key; don't make it easy for the opposition to read the play. The best plays have come seemingly out of thin air, so maybe that's a sign- don't think. Just play.

Notes: Josh Bailey made his NHL debut and saw around 7-8 minutes of ice time, including 3:09 of PP time... He took two penalties but also won 64% of faceoffs, which have been a sore spot for the Isles in the absence of veteran center Mike Sillinger. His presence comes with another absence from the Isles roster, as Mike Comrie is out with a hip injury.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Tale of the Tape? Not Quite

Penguins 4: Islanders 3 (SO)

How many times can one write the same idea over and over without sounding redundant?

That is the question we, as bloggers, face now, as we have watched yet another two-goal lead slip out of the Islanders' fingers. The same mistakes have been made, and the same trends are displayed, prompting me to wonder what exactly is not getting through to the team.

This time, the Penguins were the beneficiaries of the Isles' errors, cutting a 3-1 lead down over a period and a half, outshooting them 18-1 in the third period, and capitalizing on a Petr Sykora shootout goal and a no-goal call on Trent Hunter's chance, which got buried in goalie Dany Sabourin's pads, to lift them to a 4-3 win that once again should have been a 3-1, or maybe even 4-1, Isles win.

Once more, the goals didn't matter. Neither Tim Jackman's first of the year (this after just being called up from Bridgeport with Nate Thompson injured), nor Doug Weight's change-up from the left side, nor even Andy Hilbert's pretty little backhand shovel past Sabourin, could help. In the end, it was the defense's job to ensure this lead would not slip away- and unfortunately, all of the aggression they needed to display was not there, and so Tyler Kennedy scored twice, and Jordan Staal once, to tie it up, all at the expense of Joey MacDonald (29 saves), seemingly the only one who knew what he was doing out on the ice in the third period.

Not much more can be said, other than the fact that these Islanders have had four games now that they could have won handily- one against Montreal (lost), one against Columbus (won the hard way in OT), one against Atlanta (lost), and now this one against Pittsburgh, in which they only salvage a point. And even if the refs are to blame to a point, it is the Islanders who should be looking within themselves for answers; if they had taken care of business in the first place, the shootout never would have been needed.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Another Drop In the Frustration Bucket

Islanders 3: Thrashers 4

Up front, the Thrashers are much in the same boat as the Islanders have been for the start of this season: losing games, dwelling around the Eastern Conference cellar, and unsure of just what to do to remedy it.

But the one thing the Thrashers can do that the Isles have not done very well is play in the third period- and play they did, scoring three third-period goals to rally past New York, 4-3- you guessed it- after the Isles had a lead going into the final 20 minutes of play.

It didn't matter that backup goaltender Ondrej Pavelec allowed six goals in his previous start. Against the Isles he had a rough go for 40 minutes, allowing one goal in the first five minutes by Jon Sim, and then, while tied at 1, allowing two goals in 17 seconds, one by Frans Nielsen on what was almost a botched play, and then one by Trent Hunter on a pretty setup by Nielsen, in the second period. Atlanta has been outscored 23-6 in second periods this season.

However, the Isles have been outscored by about 30-11 in third periods, and that stat didn't change in this game. Slava Kozlov scored his second of the game and eighth of the year, Jason Williams scored on the PP, and then Tobias Enstrom put the Thrashers in the lead, and a frustrated Scott Gordon said after the game that the Isles "just stopped skating."

Another lead eliminated. Another mark in the "loss" column. Another game in which the Islanders just did not have the winning formula in the third period, the kind of game that ensures a win. And it's back to the drawing board when it comes to holding a lead.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Joey Mac, Isles Parade on Election Night

Islanders 2: Rangers 1

Barack Obama won the election, but the Islanders won the War of the Garden this time around.

Joey MacDonald was the story of the night, practically stating a case for himself to be President (at least for Isles fans) in a stellar performance that shut out the Rangers until the last five minutes of the game. On top of that, two shorthanded goals in the third period after a parade to the sin bin lifted the Isles to a 2-1 victory over their cross-town rivals, the Rangers, who have the biggest amount of points coming into this game.

The first period was, in sharp contrast to earlier games between these teams, a feeling-out period, with the Rangers tentative and the Isles almost lethargic, perhaps from the drain of the previous night's win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Although scoreless and largely uneventful, the Rangers took the majority of shots, and that carried over into the second period, where at one point the shot total was 25-10, Blueshirts. That speaks volumes about both the quality of shots they were taking and the play of MacDonald, whose best save of the night was a glove snap on Michal Roszival in the second. Overall, however, save for his heroics, this was a rare game in which nothing happened, and compared to election coverage, hockey in New York was actually boring.

Then the Isles- the Isles!- broke out finally in the third, on a rush by Frans Nielsen and Nate Thompson. Nielsen took the initial shot, which a solid Henrik Lundqvist stopped, but as he went down and the puck remained in the air, Thompson, displaying great hand-eye coordination, swatted the puck in out of midair. Five minutes later, Richard Park, the PK specialist, drove it home to score the Islanders' 6th shortie of the year, and his second. Play got feisty late into it as the Rangers turned on the after-burners, and would get a goal to cut the lead to 2-1, a dribbler off the stick of Markus Naslund. But a tough PK and impenetrable defense shut the door, and the Isles left MSG with a 2-game win streak. They look to carry the strong play over to tomorrow night's game at Atlanta, where the Thrashers are in dire straits, although coming off a strong win against Florida 5-3.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Campoli's Two Help Avoid Unlucky Seven

Blue Jackets 3: Islanders 4 (OT)

One year ago last night, the Islanders won Al Arbour's 1,500th game for him in dramatic fashion against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Last night, with Arbour no longer present behind the bench, they did so once more- with a little too much drama than a fan would hope for.

Indeed, Isles fans likely thought they were stuck with the worst possible case of deja vu ever reported- yet another game only played for 40 minutes, and yet another 3-goal lead squandered over the third period. But the Isles of last night learned their lesson, and found a way to deny the Columbus Blue Jackets another point- and that way came in the form of Chris Campoli.

The first period was uneventful, but that was just the way Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock wanted it to be- methodical, almost lethargic, as to lull the Isles into a false sense of security and then break out and catch them by surprise. However, that never happened over the first 40 minutes of the game. The Jackets maintained puck possession and faceoffs in the first, outshooting the Isles 13-7 and winning twice the amount of draws (12-6). However, they failed to knock one past Joey MacDonald, who looked well-rested and pretty much on his game.

The Isles took over and poured it on in the second period. First came the hardworking Richard Park, who stuffed it past Fredrik Norrena (25 saves) for his first of the year, which made me and Christine very happy. (After all, Park is one of the Isles we cheer on often.) The Isles took penalty after penalty, but the Jackets, falling flat fast, were unable to score; in fact, the most blatant sign of their frustration early on came when Fredrik Modin missed a wide-open net, shooting the puck wide. Bill Guerin took what was perhaps the most frustrating penalty midway through, but made up for it about three seconds after coming out of the box, as Joey Mac headmanned a great play to Richard Park, who banked it up the left side and hit Guerin on the breakaway. Norrena couldn't stay patient, diving right for the two-pad stack, and Guerin went left, slipping it right past for the 2-0 lead. Then Campoli got going shorthanded, with a scrum in front resulting in the puck bouncing onto his stick, and then into the net. 3-0, Isles. 20 minutes left to play. Sounded easy to any other team.

But nothing comes easy for either the Isles or their fans lately, and after what was probably a very sound tongue-lashing on the Jackets by Hitchcock, they came out ready to play, as the Isles' skates seemingly got stuck on the ice-again. Marc Methot scored a wrap-around goal to cut the lead to 3-1. Then, 1:12 later, new Jacket R.J. Umberger tipped it in on the power-play, after six solid penalty kills for the Isles (which still needs to be remedied- why so many penalties??). Another Umberger goal tied the score at 3 and had Isles fans' heads spinning. The Jackets continued to outshoot the Isles all game, not to mention throughout the third period (at one point, they were outshooting New York 8-3), and they stole one point after a game pretty much dominated by the Isles, at least in the second.

Overtime came, and with that the calm, collected play of Joey Mac, as coach Scott Gordon noted that his play was key to keeping the Isles on top. He kept good positioning all game, made clean glove saves, and also had some noteworthy stops that the crowd was too happy to acknowledge. And then finally, Mike Comrie broke out with the puck. He hung onto it perhaps for too long, and lost it, but Bruno Gervais picked it up and shot for a Norrena save, and the rebound came right to Campoli, whose first shot bounced out of the net but was apparently a goal. For good measure, after a short celebration, Campoli picked it up once more and shot another bullseye, this time for the OT win- one a bit delayed in coming, but a win all the same, and a reason for Gordon to breathe a sigh of relief.

Tonight, the Isles look to carry the momentum over to the Garden for their first road matchup with the Rangers on Election Night. No saying who the players would vote for, and for good measure, we choose to keep sports and politics apart *wink*. It should be a spirited game tonight, as it always is between city rivals in the Battle of New York.


Sunday, November 2, 2008

A Monumental Breakdown

Canadiens 5: Islanders 4

It was the classic example of counting your chickens, and it turned into a nightmare worthy of Freddie Kruger for Islanders fans at the Coliseum last night. They watched in horror as a 4-1 lead turned into a 5-4 deficit in the third period, and as the team let two points slip from their fingers. Instead of their first win in weeks, it turned into their worst start to date- 2-7-1. All of this after the best 40 minutes of Isles hockey you could ask for.
What went wrong?

The game started with an early Montreal goal by Alexei Kovalev, just 2:03 in. 22 seconds later, an Andrei Markov penalty allowed the Isles to answer fast, off the stick of former Habs D Mark Streit, to the chagrin of the many Habs fans having traveled from the north to occupy the Coliseum's most expensive seats. Then, the Isles would take their first lead since October 16, as goaltender Carey Price got caught daydreaming and let a softie slip past for Jon Sim to celebrate over. At the other end, goaltender Yann Danis, in his first start of the season, recovered well from the early hiccup, making 10 saves, including a breakway pad stop on Saku Koivu.

Then, in the second, the floodgates opened.
Alex Tanguay took a penalty 57 seconds in to give the Isles a power-play, and one of the nicest plays to date ensued- Trent Hunter to Doug Weight to Bill Guerin, who redirected the puck past Price for a 3-1 lead. A toe-to-toe bout between Georges Laraque and newcomer, 6'8'' Mitch Fritz would not swing the momentum in the Habs' favor, and Frans Nielsen scored his first of the year on a pretty backhand over a committed Price before the closing horn. Only one penalty was taken by the Isles to this point, and the PK made sure Montreal didn't capitalize and come to life. The Islanders were rolling now, winning nearly three-fourths of faceoffs and playing their best, most complete game yet.

And then, somehow, they simply strayed from the game plan. And kept taking draws in their own zone. And let Montreal take shot after shot, and faceoff after faceoff, and every loose puck, seemingly. And then Tomas Plekanec scored twice in 2:07. The Isles D started to scramble, and got lost in their own zone, as Chris Higgins scored to tie the score at 4. And then, as the rowdy Habs fans screamed themselves hoarse, Alexei Kovalev scored his second. And made the score 5-4. The Isles would manage a couple of shots on goal before the end, but Carey Price somehow became Henrik Lundqvist, and stopped everything. And the Isles, after 40 minutes of brilliance, of outshooting, outskating, and outscoring, unraveled before everyone's eyes. The look on Scott Gordon's face said it all- what in the world can be done?

5-4. 2-7-1. All numbers, but they lower the boom on what is a very young and brutal season for the Islanders thus far. It'll take more than words to take the bad taste out of their mouths after this one.