The Islanders came out before a typical mid-sized weekday crowd pumped on the first few shifts and seemed to capitalize on just about every mistake Montreal made, they just couldn’t finish. It’s a shame too because I really thought they would build on the momentum shift by shift as the game went on.
After the first 10 minutes I was shocked to see that the Islanders had only managed one shot on goal! Apparently, those that are in charge of counting shots for and against the Isles decided that at least two shots were not shots after all…..and took them off the board. The first period finished with the Habs leading 1-0 and out shooting the Islanders 8-1. Thinking back, I don’t remember off hand the last time the Islanders only managed one shot on goal through 20 minutes.
The second period began with the same intensity the first period did, although again the Islanders were having a problem getting shots through Montreal’s defenders – shooting the pucks at legs, sticks and even gloves. The Islanders were awarded a power play in the period, a rare event as there were a total of 3 penalties called all game. Everyone thought – here is our shot to get back in the game, WRONG! Not only did the shooting woes continue on the power play, but the Islanders gave up a short handed goal. Montreal was now up 2-0.
Desperation set in and the Islanders found a bit of intensity and got some quality chances – hitting the post two times and several open net opportunities. Mike Comrie even managed to sneak in all alone on Huet, but the combination of his speed and bad approach angle limited him on his shooting options and put it right into the goaltender’s chest. The remainder of the period would play out much the same way – with chances coming for both teams but more open play for Montreal than the home team.
Dee, also known as 7thWoman had asked me to come hang out at the Blog Box for more than my traditional final 5 minutes of the period, so I went down after the second and watched the game from center ice in section 201. The only other Blog Boxer there tonight besides Dee and I, was Mike Gasparino of , Still Drivin’. Mike was live blogging from the game – check out his “play by play”!
As the period started, I realized that it’s definitely a different perspective than my native section 309 where my season tickets are (Row B in case anyone was wondering). Center ice can be difficult at times, there are constantly people standing up and milling about during play which can be frustrating at times – I definitely like my seats better as nobody can stand in front of me.
Period number three; yup – dump and chase hockey, as Montreal was protecting what may as well been a 4 goal lead and was doing a great job of clogging up the middle of the ice. I would later hear Guerin talk about transitional hockey and how the team needs the defense to help gain the zone – this is an area the team needs some work. There were too many times the forwards would cut through the neutral zone east-west instead of gaining the blue line and looking for a play. When you make that east-west move before you cross the blue line, 9/10 times you will force your linemates offsides because the play slows down. I don’t know how many times there were offsides calls against the Isles tonight, but it was more than a handful. With about 7 minutes to play in the third, Richard Park came through with a huge goal while planted in front of the net – the goal was scrutinized by the video review folks in the war room, but it was eventually ruled in favor of the Islanders. I am pretty sure that they felt the puck was kicked in at first, clearly – it was not.
Fast forward about 5 minutes and the Islanders would frantically try to tie the game up, looking for that buzzer beater. DiPietro flies out of the crease and the Isles use the extra attacker – however, a mixture of miscommunication and a bouncing puck enabled Kovalev to beat Campoli to a lose puck in the Isles zone and have a nice lay-up to ice the game.
Did the Islanders play horrible? No, but they also certainly didn’t play outstanding either. Ted Nolan said in his post game interview that he felt the team showed up for about 40 minutes worth of hockey tonight, which I agree with 100%. It was a big game for the Islanders, because they could’ve put more space between them and the teams in our rear view mirror, but I think they were still a bit tired from the 7000+ miles traveled in the last week and a half. Like always, there isn’t even time to sit and sulk about the loss – as they face the NJ Devils tomorrow night in NJ. If there was ever a game to expect a different effort, it would be that one – I guess we shall find out shortly.
I have a nice little piece planned for tomorrow on my experiences tonight in the locker room, I don’t know where Dee and Mike went – but they missed out on some great banter by the journalists tonight. I also have some injury updates based on some observations (I love watching and listening while in the room).
Radek Martinek was milling about without a soft cast and sans limp, which isn’t exactly news because its been posted he has been skating – but I witnessed it with my own eyes. He had his typical positivity about him, which could only mean he is extremely close to returning.
Jon Sim was also spotted, every time I see him – he looks like it is killing him to be sitting out. He is a player I think would have really benefited playing under Nolan – you could see the competitiveness in him. I would venture to say that he is still not 100% – and I will leave it at that.
I am fairly certain that I saw Witt walking around – but to avoid mis-information spreading like wildfire – I don’t think I should talk about what I saw until I receive confirmation that Witt was actually where I saw him. If I get the answer, I will post an update as always.
That’s about it for tonight, I am exhausted and trying to digest a really late dinner. Catch you all on the flip side.