Islanders 2 : Rangers 1
On paper it appeared to be an even match up last night, on ice though a different story. The Islanders showed up to play, the Rangers looked like someone disturbed their nap, Ranger fans sounded like they were taking a nap, and in the post game interview, Ranger coach John Tortorella sounded like a truck driver…bleepity bleep bleep bleep.
The first of the Isle’s two goals was scored by Jon Sim or more accurately, Jon Sim’s shin @14:25 in the 1st period. Jack Hillen picked up the puck and took it behind Henrik Lundqvist while being chased by Ranger forward Christopher Higgins. Higgins chose to give up the chase and headed for the front of the net which left Hillen open (no one picked him up on the other side) for a backhand that bounced off of Sim’s shin and passed Lundqvist. Isles fans seemed to agree on Twitter- ‘lucky but we’ll take it’. As nice as Sim scoring was the decent number of Isles fans seen jumping up to celebrate in the seats behind Lundqvist. By the end of the 1st period, the Isles had outshot the Rangers 10-3 and in general the Rangers looked like they were going to lose IF the Isles could keep their energy at an even keel like they had in this period.
What Islander/Ranger game would be complete without the antics of Sean ‘if you can’t beat them, annoy them’ Avery? Hillen gave him some attention resulting in both of them serving two minutes for roughing 27 seconds into the 2nd period. A few minutes later came a couple of scoring chances for both teams followed by a pile up involving Dwayne Roloson and Avery. Seems Avery got too close to Roloson who reacted by whacking Avery’s left leg, from my view Roloson’s reaction looked like a fight or flight reaction – a reflex. Avery then pushed Roloson to the ice and had to be pulled off of him by the ref. After watching the replay a few times with my Nephew TJ who plays goalie (whoo hoo!), it is clear that Roloson made a glove save high up on left yet even though Avery could see the play was dead, rather than retract his stick, he made contact on Roloson, jabbing his stick into Roloson’s left knee. It’s one thing to dig into a goalie’s space with the excuse of ‘just doing my job’ but it’s another to push a goalie down when he is at a considerable disadvantage in many ways due to the weight and bulk of goalie gear. I think it’s one of the lowest things a player can do on ice, to any goalie.
Despite Avery clearly being a tool, the Rangers wound up on the power play – Matt Moulson and Jon Sim serving two minutes for Roloson for slashing and roughing and Avery serving two minutes for roughing. At this point it was wait and see if Isles were going to allow Avery’s toolness to shake em’ up or shake Avery off like the flea he is. Thank you fellas for going with the latter…the Isles killed the penalty and continued to play at an even keel for the rest of this scoreless period and throughout the 3rd where Blake ‘no scratch for you’ Comeau scored his second goal of the season with about 3 minutes left to go in the game, a rebound off Moulson’s slapshot, a gift from Lundqvist’s pads to Comeau. The Isles almost left MSG with a shutout had it not been for a puck getting through between Roloson’s pads, then tipped in by Enver Lisin with only 55 seconds left to go in the game.
Overall the Islanders did so much right in this game, one that I consider to be their best played so far. Early on the Isle’s lackluster passing game was put to the test due to the Rangers playing loose, leaving pockets of ice for the Isles to utilize, which they did…and at times did REALLY well. Even though those efforts did not yield more goals scored…we’ll take it.
In about an hour the Islanders host the Rangers for part two of this home-on-home gig. No doubt the Rangers are going to be raring to go this time around so it’s up to the Isles to maintain a lot of last night’s effort and effectively channel the extra ‘kick’ of energy felt on home ice against this team. Can the Isles do it? Sure they can.
Even keel grasshoppers.
LET’S GO ISLANDERS!!