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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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Friday, March 6, 2009

Isles Work Hard, But Thwarted By Rangers... And Avery "Lite"?

Rangers 4: Islanders 2

In my eyes, blogging right after a game is begging for trouble; thus, though I was tempted to stay up and pound the keyboard, I stepped away and refused to let my pent-up anger and frustration dominate.

That said, for me losing to the Rangers is like finding out your favorite love song was written about a sandwich, to quote the movie "27 Dresses." Against these guys, the Islanders always seem to either overdo or underdo the aggression- coming out either way too overzealous or completely flat. Last night, after a three-day layoff, the Isles came out strong, and played the Rangers, if not even, almost for the first two periods. But the Rangers got on the board first because of a giveaway by Tim Jackman in the defensive zone that Nikolai Zherdev capitalized on. The second period saw goals traded by both teams, Blake Comeau in front for Chris Drury (PP) after Trent Hunter went to the penalty box for tripping. As if that weren't bad enough, :49 into the third period, Dean McAmmond and Andy Hilbert collided in the offensive zone, giving Zherdev the puck. Zherdev then fed a wide-open Scott Gomez for the goal. What could go wrong had at this point for the Isles, and although Jack Hillen scored a pretty goal (the first of his career), a Markus Naslund goal sealed the deal and snapped the Islanders' win streak at home, giving the Rangers a much-needed win that lifted them higher up in the standings.

Yann Danis couldn't be blamed for this one, not that much. He did what he could, and the mistakes the Islanders made last night were not his fault. On the other end, Henrik Lundqvist in goal was as good as he needed to be, and the defense was incredibly aggressive. One thing I resent about this team: how the players who seemingly can't put up points anywhere else find ways to score on the Islanders. Chris Drury has nine points (including four goals) against us this season. He has 43 points total, a significant drop from previous years in his career. Scott Gomez scored only his 14th of the season last night as well. Lucky? Maybe, considering the errors the Isles committed. But there has to be some unexplained reason for it.

Another irksome aspect of the Rangers is their fans, and the way they permeate the Coliseum whenever their team plays. The majority of voices I heard booming around the arena last night seemed to belong to the Blueshirts' faithful, which never ceases to amaze me. That, my friends, is dedication. And granted, the economy's bad, the weather sucks lately, and the Islanders are losing big time, but have we ever been able to fill up MSG with that many opposing fans and cheer as loudly as they do? My guess is no. The jeers, singing their own goal song on a Rangers goal, hearing that annoyingly outdated "Potvin Sucks!"- in your own building? Hmm.

But it wasn't even that. The most amazing thing about this game was how the Islanders paid so much attention to a player who really was of little consequence in Avery. They hit him and hit him, and took penalties for little reason other than to say they "put down Sean Avery," it seemed. Why so much focus was on him, it's easy to say at first- of course, we all want to see whether or not he will revert back to form, and indeed we saw some of it surface as he yapped at Blake Comeau after being laid out by him. But if the Isles had focused more on scoring goals, and finishing chances, and playing their own game instead of the Rangers, they would have gotten the two points, as far as I'm concerned. It's easy to smack him around, but it's just another way of letting him get under their skin.

And because of that, the Isles skated off having outplayed the Rangers for much of the game, but with nothing to show for their efforts. And this being the last game between these two teams for the rest of the season, there really is no way to say "Better luck next time."

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