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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, April 6, 2009

Isles Enter Home Stretch with a Win

Tampa Bay 1 : Islanders 3

Youth movement. Did the Islander powers that be really have a choice? Sorta. Management’s decision to focus on youth has become an organic process all on its own due to the number of Isles sidelined with injuries. According to my math skills here are some stats:

Average age of Isles main roster is 28
Average age of Isles stats roster is 26.63
Average age of Bridgeport players called up is 23.9

Five Bridgeport players were called upon to fill in the gaps against Tampa Bay; Mike Iggulden, Jesse Joensuu, Joel Rechlicz, Mitch Fritz and Jamie Fraser who made his debut in the NHL.

Richard Park wowed the crowd by scoring just 23 seconds into the game, his 14th goal of the season. After receiving a pass from Joensuu, Park spun around on the left side of the net and wrapped the puck past Mike McKenna. A few minutes later Mitch Fritz and David Koci went at it (4:55) resulting in both serving 5 minutes for fighting and Koci also serving a 10 minute misconduct. Radek Martinek joined Fritz after being called for hooking (5:38) and although Tampa Bay fired off a round of shots on Yann Danis, it was clear that Danis was back on track after Thursday night’s loss to Montreal and after TBs Ryan Malone crashed into him earlier in the period. Isles defense did a nice job at protecting their goalie who made 29 saves while maintaining his usual calm aura. The Isles also took their own round of shots midway into the 1st and then there was a loud ‘thud’, looked around to find the cause of the thud but nothing…until, like jack(s) in the box, Brendan Witt and Ryan Malone both popped up from below the boards – thud mystery solved. At 17:37 Adam Hall served two minutes for hooking while his team denied the Isles scoring chances. Park was called for off sides during the power play and with under a minute to go in the period, Blake Comeau lost his stick while taking a shot on goal.

Don’t know what was said to Tampa Bay players during the intermission but it was clear they redirected their play, drilling off some shots on Danis, some close calls about 5 minutes into the 2nd period. That was followed by some ping pong hockey surrounding two Tampa Bay penalties, Martins Karsums for hooking (6:21) and Paul Szczechura for hi-sticking (13:01). While Szczechura was in the box, Bruno Gervais faked a shot and then passed to Martinek who fired the puck over McKennas’s shoulder (14:52), putting the Isles up 2-0. Although Rechlicz exchanged words with Koci a few times this period, Rechlicz found a new fighting partner in Zenon Konopka - both served 5 minutes for fighting and Rechicz was also pegged with a two minute charging penalty that was served by Mike Iggulden (14:59). While on the power play, Tampa Bay scored their only goal of the game, Matt Pettinger with a backhand wrist shot (16:38). Jack Hillen was called for hi-sticking (17:26) and after the buzzer sounded players from both teams piled up in an unfriendly group hug against the boards before leaving the ice.

Shortly into the 3rd period it appeared as if both teams got their second wind. Another pile up occurred involving Martinek, Steve Stamkos, Witt and Ryan Malone but no penalties were called. While Matt Smaby was serving time for hooking (8:54), Comeau did what he does well (and needs to be utilized more for) – a sweet pass to Josh Bailey who scored his 7th goal of the season (9:14), Isles up 3-1. After Bailey’s goal, some people in my section started chanting “John Tavares”…alrighty then. Yet another pile up took place, this time involving Tim Jackman (ha ha I typed Hugh Jackman at first) Karsums and Witt. Witt served two minutes for roughing while Karsums was assigned 4 minutes, two of them served by Evgeny Artyukhin (13:52). After Tampa Bay pulled McKenna with a minute to go in the game and then called a time out, two things were broken - Richard Park’s stick and the Isles three game losing streak.

Granted playing with new teammates can take up a lot of energy/focus, but what I didn’t see during this game from the youngins’ were sparks of their individual style of play. There is a wide open space of opportunity for any Bridgeport player called up. Who knows how long the Isles roster will remain fragile soooo young grasshoppers, Carpe Diem or in this case Carpe Game!


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