Capitals 7: Islanders 2
I don't think anyone was prepared for what was to transpire last night at Nassau Coliseum- least of all Jack Hillen.
The young defenseman took a shot by Alexander Ovechkin right to the mouth, went down in a heap and had to be taken to the hospital, bloody and likely missing more than a few teeth.
That moment, while scary and unsettling, provided the parallel for perhaps the whole game for the Isles- for them, playing the Capitals was like taking a puck to the teeth.
The Capitals capitalized on their strength, speed and talent and blitzed the Isles, 7-2, in a game that was incredibly uncharacteristic for the Isles as of late. Whereas Washington was flying high on an incredible 9-0-1 record in their last ten, the Isles couldn't catch a break and later looked as though they didn't even want one.
Jose Theodore and Dwayne Roloson started this game; Michal Neuvirth and Rick DiPietro ended it. Roloson allowed four goals on 12 shots in the first period- two by Alex Semin, one by Mike Knuble and one by Brendan Morrison- and didn't come back in the second. Theodore, on the other hand, only gave up two goals- one by Rob Schremp, the other by Kyle Okposo- but Neuvirth started the third period, raising concern about injury or illness for Theo. At any rate, Neuvirth didn't have much to do, and for that matter neither had Theodore- the Islanders were sluggish and unable to get much going offensively, though they hit a couple of posts. Ultimately I believe the problem was getting past the larger, stronger and aggressive defense. Not only that, but their reluctance to play physically also hurt them. When they're aggressive and on point and finish their checks, they keep up with and even outplay teams that may have more talent than them. That wasn't the case here; maybe it was because they were in awe of guys like Ovechkin and Semin, maybe because they knew they were outsized. Either way, not a good showing by the Isles.
Not seeming incredibly angry about the result, coach Scott Gordon saw it as a learning curve of sorts. Paraphrasing what I heard from him in last night's postgame, he said the Caps were in the same spot as the Isles a few years ago; now, they are arguably one of the best teams in the league, only a few pieces away from being a legitimate Stanley Cup contender. It's something the Isles can look forward to (perhaps) becoming; with the core of youth they have at this point, anything is possible. Either way, they are still a team to watch.
John Erskine, Jason Chimera, and Brooks Laich also scored for the Capitals; meanwhile, Ovechkin was held pointless for the ninth time this season. Little matter, though; everyone else clearly picked up the slack. They were 1-for-2 on the power play, and the Isles were 1-for-5.
UPDATE: Hillen will be out 6-8 weeks for the Islanders with a broken jaw and damaged teeth after taking Ovechkin's shot to the face. He had surgery last night. All the best to him, and we hope he recovers quickly.
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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.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Capitals 7: Islanders 2