Warning! Long Post Alert!
Happy Turkey Day to my American readers, I hope you aren't all suffering from the post Thanksgiving sleepiness that happens from eating turkey – like I am.
Having lost to the Montreal Canadians last night by a score of 4-1, here are a few of my thoughts on the game.
I felt the defense sat back a bit after that first goal (under a minute in) and as soon as it happened – I knew we were in trouble. The defense let too many Montreal players get to the puck first and they generated a lot of pressure on DiPietro.
That being said, when we had possession of the puck – we actually seemed to cycle the puck very well – we just couldn't generate any pressure of our own.
The power play was absolutely dismal, I don't know how many shots we generated over the course of the 5 chances we had – but I know we did not shoot enough.
It really drives me nuts when the team (in Billy Jaffe’s words) takes low percentage shots and makes low percentage plays. Mike Comrie was guilty of a few of these low percentage plays – coughing up the puck trying to be too pretty with it.
Berard had a few great chances on the power play, even hitting the post twice. The bounces and breaks just didn't work in our favor. I feel the team really needs to get back to what worked at the very beginning of the season – put pressure in front of the opposing goalie, get shots through and work those rebounds. Don't look for the perfect pass or play, just get it to the net when you have no other option. Keeping possession of the puck and cycling in the zone on the power play is great, but it's a waste of time when you can't generate anything.
Some positives, Witt dropped the gloves last night – taking on Long Island native Mike Komisarek behind the Islanders net. Witt landed a HUGE punch at the end of the fray, earning him a clear victory in what would've been a draw otherwise.
The penalty kill is still working, having let up only one power play goal in several chances – at least that percentage continues to shine.
Mike Comrie got on the board in the last few minutes – granted it was too little too late, but he is one player that needs to get his offensive game going.
This was the first time I went downstairs after a tough loss, so it was definitely an experience. The mood in the locker room was as if someone had stolen the team’s puppy – very quiet with a feeling of disgust and let down. If the mood had been any different, I would be concerned. It shows me that this group of players really cares about playing and winning.
As the group of Media and Bloggers was huddled around Mike Sillinger (as he is the go to guy in tough situations), Corey Witt tapped me on the shoulder and asked why I wasn't in there recording the interview. I told him I wouldn't do much with the interview anyway, as 14 other people would be covering that side of the story. I did not want to write about the same thing, so I was just watching player’s reactions and mannerisms more than anything – given I can't take pictures in the locker room. He smiled at me and acknowledged my point. I then said it was like taking a mental picture, so I can write about this later instead.
So what did I see? In no particular order:
Bryan Berard, looking extremely annoyed and wishing he had another 20 minutes.
Richard Park, slamming (emphatically) the top to his foot locker down gritting his teeth as he walked passed me – which is odd because that guy always has a smile on his face.
Mike Comrie in what felt like 15 minutes to take his equipment off, drinking some sort of protein shake and tossing bits of equipment in his bag in disgust. I think he knew I was staring at him – as he had a look of discomfort on his face. (Trust me Mike, I understand… I would be freaked out too)
After Sillinger was done with the interview and the sea of reporters and bloggers dissipated (to interview DiPietro) – he turned to Comrie and commented on the quality of their socks (which drew a laugh out of me at least). Once again, I witnessed a seasoned veteran giving advice to a younger player. Although this time, it was an attempt to get Comrie from lamenting over the loss. To me, that is one of the things that make this blog worth while the most.
When I am in the locker room and I look around, I get to see the guys who I love to watch – but in a different environment. In the smallest way, it makes me feel like I am part of the team – because we share the same interest in the team, their success and the sport of hockey. It's like walking into the locker room after one of my games – there is conversation on the game, banter, laughter and of course – the smells of hockey that only a hockey player can enjoy.
For that, I cannot thank the Islanders, Chris Botta and Corey Witt enough – I hope I do them proud.
Lastly, I only took maybe 3 pictures during the post game press conference – I will post them up in a few (as well as the rest of the pics from the game prior – oops).
Enjoy the rest of your holiday – let’s get 4 points out of this home and home boys!