Islanders 3: Lightning 2 (OT)
Islanders 2: Leafs 1 (OT)
Avalanche 2: Islanders 5
I'd love to go into each of these games play by play, but there isn't enough time in the world and at this point in the week, it would all be redundant, so... here's some commentary.
First off, how great is it to be an Isles fan right now? I mean, sure, it's early, but considering the team is playing right now without two top players- Mark Streit and Kyle Okposo- and has managed to start off at the top of the Eastern Conference... you gotta admit, that's impressive. There have been some important variables involved- some lucky calls going our way, plus some spectacular goaltending- but even as players have popped in and out of the lineup, the general play of the team has stayed the same.
Of course, that doesn't mean we haven't had our injuries. Our most recent casualty has been Andrew MacDonald, who had successful hand surgery earlier in the week and will be out for a few weeks at least. That gives us another chance to watch Jack Hillen, who's been a healthy scratch for many of the games mainly because of lack of roster space. Also out day-to-day (supposedly) is Josh Bailey, who aggravated a hip flexor he sustained against Washington earlier in the month. He left the game against Toronto early in the second period, and did not play at all in the rest of that game or in Tampa Bay. Blake Comeau, who had been developing a very good tandem with Bailey up until Josh's injury, looked a bit lost against Tampa and didn't play very well as a consequence.
Still, the Isles have managed to overcome injuries and low expectations, implementing a strong forecheck, a determined defense and penalty kill, and two goalies- a healthy Rick DiPietro and an ageless Dwayne Roloson- who've wowed more than once in each game they've played. Roloson had the game of his season to date against the Leafs, with not quite the number of saves (28, as opposed to 58 last season) but certainly with the same kind of acrobatics, and so far he's simply been a rock in net. DiPietro, however, isn't staying too far behind- he started off a bit slow, but has picked up and is making some great saves out there, looking closer to the form of his All-Star season than the past two years. In the absence of Okposo and Streit, we've seen Bailey, Comeau, Matt Moulson and newcomer PA Parenteau step up and deliver points. Our power play has been touch-and-go, but we still have plenty of time to fix that. And overall, we've had some good production from our other new Isles- James Wisniewski, Milan Jurcina, and Michael Grabner in particular.
We've also been lucky. I mean, two video reviews ruling non-goals for the Leafs, and then two video reviews ruling Isles goals good goals (including the overtime winner by Moulson) against the Lightning? Those two games alone could have been drastically different if the calls had gone the other way, and I'm sure the Islanders know it. They could be looking at a record for the worse right now, instead of a 4-1-2 start (their best since 2001-02). Then again, maybe we should credit the refs and the "War Room" over in Toronto for taking the time to ensure calls are going the right way. While officiating has still had plenty of issues so far, at least good goals are goals now.
So how long will this last? Who can say for sure? I do know that right now things are going much better for the Isles than was projected before the start of the season, and we can only hope they get better from here on out.
LET'S GO ISLANDERS!!
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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.
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Islanders 3: Lightning 2 (OT)