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Tonight’s matchup features two of the leagues lowest ranked clubs – in terms of point totals anyway. The Atlanta Thrashers are 8-14-3 with 19 points and are last overall in the eastern conference, while the Islanders are 10-13-2 for 22 points and currently sit three points ahead of the Thrashers for 13th and two points ahead of the Tampa Bay Lightning who are in 12th.

Despite Atlanta’s struggles this season, there are still players that you need to fear – two such names who are leading the Thrashers offense, Vyacheslav Kozlov (12-10-22) and Iiya Kovalchuk (8-15-23).

For the Islanders, they need to concentrate – some would say in general, but we will say concentrate on play in their own zone, both sides of the puck, the forecheck and of course – moving away from taking bad penalties. It was some of these things the other night that cost the Islanders two poiints in D.C. because they failed (yet again) to play a complete game for long stretches of each period.

So I hear

A rare occasion presented itself to me today while at the morning skate, I witnessed Islanders assistant coach John Chabot asking around about a certain unknown call-up defenseman for the Thrashers. It seems that none of the Islanders staff had any information on Boris Valabik. Present were Billy Jaffe, Jon Sim, and a few unknown faces. Jaffe gave Chabot his take on the kid and then they joked around about “Some guy named Kovalchuk – who didn’t have much of a shot, a wicked backhand and who couldn’t skate much” – to which Sim added “I hear he has a wicked toe-drag”. All kidding of course, as Kovalchuk is one heckuva player.

The funniest part about the toe-drag exchange? Mike Comrie was just walking down the hallway and looked over and couldn’t help but chuckle. When you need to know about a player and nobody has a scouting report – who better to go to than Billy Jaffe?

Tonight’s lines courtesy of Tom Liodice:

ISLANDERS
Goaltenders
35 Joey MacDonald
34 Yann Danis

Defensemen
32 Brendan Witt – 44 Freddy Meyer
25 Andy Sutton – 2 Mark Streit
14 Chris Campoli – 17 Thomas Pock

Forwards
93 Doug Weight – 13 Bill Guerin – 20 Sean Bergenheim
11 Andy Hilbert – 12 Josh Bailey – 7 Trent Hunter
57 Blake Comeau – 10 Richard Park – 16 Jon Sim
28 Tim Jackman – 18 Mike Sillinger – 45 Nate Thompson

More when the game begins!

Live Tracker

First Period

About to drop the puck here – “4th” line to start with Park taking the draw.

Faceoff won, here we go.

7:10pm Atlanta takes a penalty :19 in Islanders POWER PLAY
7:10pm And the Islanders have an early lead – Bill Guerin with the tally from Streit and Weight
7:14pm Islanders had some trouble getting out of their zone and were forced to ice the puck, this is something that has troubled them most of the season.
7:15pm Sreit with the lazt penalty, puts the Isles down a man – Hooking
7:18pm Good Islanders kill – even up
7:18pm Great shift here by Comeau, nice play in front that was stopped then finished his checks.
7:19pm Some rough stuff from Sutton – Boulton and Valabik. Something incensed Sutton either a spear or some contact on MacDonald. Islanders on a power play.
7:24pm Great effort on the power play, a shot by Bailey, a blocked shot by Bailey and then a missed attempt by Sillinger. Islanders on another power play here. It just keeps coming – great pressure causes the opposition to take penalties.
7:27pm Islanders are now 1/3 on the man advantage – still some good chances.
7:29pm Tim Jackman just pummeled Chris Thorburn – easy win
7:39pm Great feed to Sillinger who shot it right into Atlanta’s goaltender.
7:40pm Don’t really know what happened there, failure to pick up the late man results in a Thrashers goal, it’s all tied up.
2:41pm Bailey was just hit up high, good to see his teammates come to his defense – Hilbert gets the gate for roughing, nothing for Atlanta?

Ok I can live with what I saw in that period, although I would have liked for the Islanders to get one more on the power play. It’s a new game now being it’s all tied up. Something that concerns me is the lack of a quality back check. The Islanders need to pick up the late man otherwise there is a wide open door for the opposition to shoot.

We will see what happens with the start of the second.

Second Period

The Islanders burst out of the hallways with energy and enthusiasm – should be a great second period.

8:01pm Here we go, face off loss
8:04pm Sutton very involved with his former teammates – drew a penalty and the Islanders go on the power play.
8:08pm Bergenheim with a pretty play to almost get past a defender – some seem to think it should have been a penalty.
8:09pm A rare showing of anger from Streit – that was good to see.
8:10pm Net knocked off, puck crossed the line – no goal.
8:11pm Sillinger the recipient of another great feed, couldn’t find the back of the net.
8:18pm A beautiful slip feed to Kovalchuk and the Thrashers are up 2-1
8:20pm Hunter was just having some words with Boulton – lot’s of chatting tonight, very chippy game.
8:24pm Another great shift by Bailey, two face off wins and two great scoring chances.
8:25pm Bergenheim called for a slash – Thrahsers power play
8:28pm Delayed penalty for a faux-trip – the Thrashers score again, 3-1 troubles continue for the Islanders
8:30pm Comeau just completely flattened Crabb. He is certainly making his case to remain with the team here tonight.
8:36pm Final minute, thank god.

I really don’t understand the mental breakdowns this team continues to show. No back checking continues to cost this team goals. It’s simple, skate as hard back into your zone and put just as much effort into defending as you do on offense. They are also trying to find the perfect plays continuously, just get the puck on goal and crash the net. Throw some bodies in front and screen the goalie, it worked against the Capitals, there is no reason it cannot work against any team on any given night.

This team needs to come out ready to attack – there are no excuses, they have had rest – it’s only going to get tougher here in the next few weeks.

Third Period

And we are off

8:57pm Blake Comeau continues to be a one man wrecking crew, leveling anything in white.
8:59pm On breakouts, the Islanders are remaining stationary in the neutral zone, this cannot continue. You need to move around and give the passer a good target – it also keeps the opposition on their toes.
9:03pm And the Islanders just got called for two separate penalties – both on Hunter, two tripping and two for high sticking. Joy to the world
9:05pm Delayed penalty, they score – one penalty was over on Hunter – one ends. Two minutes on Sutton slashing and this game is over folks.
9:09pm With some Paradise City playing, yes – please take me home.
9:14pm Two consecutive posts….what a night. To make it even better, Atlanta comes back and scores to make it 5-1.
9:16pm Islanders power play, if there is any power left.
9:22pm Comeau just missed a breakaway – as Gary Harding says “Sums up this game in one, little, tap.”
9:23pm Islanders bench minor for unsportsmanlike conduct – someone slammed the bench door for like the second or third time.

Ok, well I don’t really expect anything much more exciting happening tonight. I am going to take this opportunity to pack up my laptop.

What a game…..