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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, November 8, 2009

Isles Split Down Middle In Back-to-Back Games

Islanders 1: Devils 2
Thrashers 3: Islanders 6

A couple of injuries- one for the long-term- perhaps made the difference between these two games, sadly enough. The Islanders paid dearly in their 2-1 loss to New Jersey at the Rock on Friday night, losing defenseman Radek Martinek yet again to injury. This time, it was an ACL tear, leaving him out for the rest of the season. They also lost captain Doug Weight again, this time for a week with an upper body injury.

As for the actual hockey, I tried hard to follow this game by listening to it online. The trick with radio is that you have to visualize how the game looks in your head. Though you get the same broadcasters (Howie Rose and Billy Jaffe), it's difficult to follow because you have no picture to go on. Thus, you have to rely solely on your listening skills, which is difficult. Biologically and psychologically speaking, humans are not exactly creatures built specifically for listening. At any rate, I tried hard but ultimately lost the feed anyway, thanks to my lovely Internet which hates me.

At any rate, it was a loss, and with former Isles goalie Yann Danis in net. Frans Nielsen got the Islanders scoring first, taking and burying a feed from Sean Bergenheim, but other than that the Isles couldn't get anything started against their Metro-area rival. Cory Murphy, a recent call-up from Lowell, and Brian Rolston got the Devils' goals, and Danis made 23 saves to preserve the win. It was a game full of penalties and overall somewhat flat play by the Isles.

With injuries sustained both on the blueline and on the wing, Scott Gordon tweaked the lineup to allow for them, putting in Blake Comeau once more who had been a scratch these past couple of weeks, as well as Freddy Meyer. Both had significant impact in last night's game, which turned out to be a topsy-turvy 6-3 win over the Atlanta Thrashers. Kyle Okposo was moved onto a line with Nielsen and Bergenheim, while Richard Park skated alongside John Tavares and Matt Moulson (perhaps with the hope that the hard-working grinder would be able to complement the flashier players). Right off the bat, the Isles had energy and threw shots at Ondrej Pavelec. Andy Sutton made good at 9:11 of the first with a beautiful goal on an equally pretty setup by Tavares. He stopped short, drew Pavelec down enough to expose the top half of the net, and backhanded it right past the goalie's left shoulder.

Atlanta got it right back, however, as Zach Bogosian sprang free while Tavares tried to cover for a pinching Bruno Gervais. However, 38 seconds later, a one-goal lead would once again be implemented. The goalscorer? Sean Bergenheim, who finally got his first goal of the season by getting to the loose puck in front. You gotta love it when a guy who works so hard but can't get anything started, finally gets his first. Unfortunately, Jon Sim couldn't say the same; though he forechecked effectively and worked hard, even getting some chances, he just couldn't will one past Pavelec or his replacement in the third, Johan Hedberg.

There were plenty more first goals in this game- those of Jack Hillen (a rocket that blew past Pavelec during 4-on-4 play) and Blake Comeau only :22 into the second period (a shot that Pavelec merely swatted at, giving up far too much of the net once more; give Comeau credit for using Pavel Kubina as a screen on the rush). Matt Moulson scored on a beautiful shot through traffic (with Tavares once more getting the first assist) and Josh Bailey would cap things off for the Isles with his third of the season on a sweet wrist shot.

Kubina and former Senator Christoph Schubert were the Thrashers' two other goalscorers, which made it somewhat close, but there were holes in Atlanta's game that couldn't be patched up in time, such as their lack of physicality in the first and second periods, particularly by their defense. The Isles were winning nearly every battle for the puck, allowing them to run up the shot tally and keep the Thrashers off the board for the most part.

Also, when the Thrashers finally started outplaying the Isles in the third period, Kubina ended up ended up taking a hooking penalty, then making it worse by slamming his stick on the pipe of the goalie net, adding two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct. That allowed for Bailey's power-play goal, and for the Isles to secure the win.

Overall, this made for a good win for the Isles in their last home game until around Thanksgiving. Their next game will be against the Capitals (again? sheesh) at the Verizon Center on Wednesday. Another late class for me, unfortunately. Such is life. But at least I can still say...


(P.S. Every Islander except for Nate Thompson and Brendan Witt recorded at least one shot on goal; Moulson and Bergenheim both led with six... Attendance was reported at 14,119... Roloson and Pavelec each had 31 saves, and Hedberg had eight... Sean Bergenheim played in his 200th NHL game and scored, good for him!... Rob Schremp was the only healthy scratch last night.

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