What a complete game tonight!
We had a first period short handed goal by Richard Park – assisted by none other than Kyle Okposo. We had a power play goal by Bergenheim and even two even strength goals by players who need to find the back of the net more – Bill Guerin and Trent Hunter. For whatever reason, the Penguins were not sticking to the game plan that makes them so successful, they were trying to be overly physical and it hurt them. They often found themselves scrambling to get back into position and took more penalties tonight then I have seen them take in the previous match-ups.
Conklin attempted to make up for the lack of offensive power tonight, but the Islanders really peppered him with QUALITY shots. In the previous matchup, the Islanders took shots from the perimeter which any goaltender would love all game long. Tonight the Islanders drove to the net and shot from the slot area – something that was missing during long stretches this season.
I don’t know what Ted Nolan said to the team since their deflating loss to the Flyers last night. So I tried find out – but my question came out like something sounding like gibberish, due to my stuttering and stumbling, so when he answered me all was he said he was that he couldn’t give up all his secrets.
Once in the locker room, PR Guru and “Blog Father” Chris Botta patted me on the back and complimented me on my “great question”. Yea yea, the coach and the rest of the press got a chuckle out of it – but I am human and suffered from a momentary loss of clarity, mind control and apparently – English speaking ability. I happened to be standing next to Greg Logan of Newsday at the time, so I asked him if he heard my “super question”. He told me to “Shake it off, it happens to all of us from time to time”. Jim Baumbach, also of Newsday told me through instant messenger that it’s not anything to worry about, although he can see my concern as a blogger looking to remain as professional as possible. When I told him I intended to poke fun at myself in my blog, he said that was the best part about these situations – self deprecation. So there you have it – it’s out in the open and it feels great?! Maybe not.
Fast forward about 15 minutes later and Dee, Tom and I run into GM Extroidonaire Garth Snow walking to his car. We began to chit chat with him about owning large vehicles and gas prices when I realized I was able to have a conversation with him and not feel entirely short. I was standing on a high part of the grass – so, I mentioned this (for those who don’t know during the trade deadline I had a conversation with him about height and how I was entirely too small for the NHL (a vailed attempt at getting him to offer me a ATO contract ::snickers::)) so with that he steps up on the grass to knock me down a peg or two. Strike two for Mike tonight says Dee. Thanks, it’s just one of those days I guess.
Back to hockey talk (or tawk as we Long Islanders would like to say), the game tonight is one of those that really makes you scratch your head. The style and competitiveness of this team varies from period to period, game to game and even minute to minute sometimes. Much like my line of questioning tonight, it’s really hard to wrap your mind around completely. However, with a lineup chock full of inexperience at the NHL level it is definately a positive sign when confidence is there more often than not – so I will take what I can get.
Okposo Watch – Game 4
Go Kyle Go! I don’t know how many times I said that tonight, as he was SO STRONG on the puck and pulled off some really confident moves through traffic. With each shift, this kid just gets more confident and plays like he has been in the league for years. Between him, Comeau and Bergenheim I really don’t know who to be excited about more next season. They really give fans something to be hopeful for in the future!
Here are Kyle’s stats from tonight’s game:
Total Shifts: 16
Time on Ice: 13:50
Power Play Time: 2:22
Penalty Kill Time: :36
Average Shift: :51
Blocked Shots: 1
Fairly respectable numbers, although his average shift time decreased from last night’s game – it is due to the decreased special team time. In 4 games with the Islanders, Okposo has 1 goal and 2 assists for 3 points – which is almost exactly the scoring pace he was on down in Bridgeport. So much for those saying Kyle’s game wouldn’t translate well into the NHL! However, having said that, 4 games is 4 games and we will reserve complete judgment until he is allowed to perform at an extended pace next season.
So, 4 points in 3 games isn’t too shabby – especially given we stole the points from division rivals/leaders. I am sure that all the Rangers fans were devout Isles fans tonight – just don’t get too comfy just yet boys – we have 4 points to take from you later on next week. The role of spoiler may not be the best, but it can sure be fun.
For now, I must bid adieu – this bumbling idiot needs to get some much needed rest.
For those wondering when I would post the answer to the poll, answer directly below the poll results:
The answer is: Jeff Tambellini
Scored his first NHL goal on March 14 at New Jersey (Brodeur) with the Islanders