It seems that no matter how much we would prefer that the Islanders remain at the very bottom of the standings to secure the best chance to finish with that valuable-to-rebuild first overall pick – that they are actually learning, adapting and finding ways to win hockey games.
It began with the home win over Anaheim before the All-Star break, a team the Islanders had absolutely no business beating. Move into Thursday’s four point contest in Atlanta and the Islanders stormed out front with a 4 goal first period. Of course, they would have a slight problem maintaining pressure as they have all season, but the difference this time was a third period effort that would keep Atlanta at bay and manage a 5-4 victory. Kyle Okposo would have his first two goal game in his young NHL career, Josh Bailey would find himself connecting with Okposo on both goals and Blake Comeau would solidify that kid line with awesome play himself. Personally, it was a game that I really would have preferred that they lose – because it allowed Atlanta to “catch up” to us in the standings – but I digress, it was nice to see strong play from our “future”.
I did not actually get to see the game, I watched the recap on NHL on the Fly because I was at the Metallica concert with Tom Liodice of The Tiger Track. It was a great show, my first time seeing Metallica live.
This brings us into last nights contest against the Florida Panthers – a team that has managed to bring themselves out of the cellar and into playoff contention for the first time in a very, very long time. For the sake of that franchise, I hope they sneak in there. It wouldn’t be right for me – a fan of a struggling franchise to wish anything other than success on another franchise, so should they make it – Florida is the Eastern conference team I will root for. Back to talking about the game – Mike Comrie was the lucky recipient of the puck after a communication breakdown between Vokoun and Bouwmeester. Comrie grabbed the puck behind the net and put it shortside on a nice wraparound. During the second period, Bill Guerin would take a rebound and pull a nifty spin-o-ramaesque move out of his bag of tricks to deposit the puck past Vokoun backhand for a 2-0 lead. Going into the third period the Islanders would be awarded a power play right after the backhalf of a power play that carried over from the end of the second. It would be a pass from Trent Hunter to Kyle Okposo that would give the Islanders a 3-0 lead. It was Okposo’s fourth straight game scoring a goal -a career and season high bringing his total to 10. Ken Dick over on Okposo Net did the math and claims that Okposo is on a point every two game pace currently, not too shabby.
The Panthers would pull their goaltender with over five minutes remaining in the third – they must have been watching tapes of all the Islanders late third period collapses and hoped they could sneak a few goals past a solid Yann Danis to potentially steal the game and break the Islanders psyche. They wouldn’t score for about 3 minutes, but they did break Danis’s shutout bid. Armed with a late 3-1 lead, the Islanders would persevere and come out on top giving Danis his win. If holding onto the lead wasn’t enough, the Islanders would do great things en route to that victory – they killed off every Panthers power play, including two different double minors, they successfully changed their game plan as well – something Greg Logan pointed out in a recent blog entry.
So – the Islanders are still last in the league in terms of points, but now they have won three in a row and allowed the teams behind them to gradually catch up. Chris Botta has an excellent entry about the precarious situation fans may now feel themselves in – torn between happiness that the Islanders youth is the guiding light during this “winning streak”, when some may have been starting to accept the losses in the hopes that the Islanders could add another important piece to their rebuild – namely one of the top three players in the draft.
That brings us into the next topic – and this one is a hot one.
It seems that another Canadian journalist just HAD TO resort to talking negatively about the Islanders. It happens every year, it’s not really anything new – I just look at it as a way for a no name journalist to get some views through being a sensationalist – I don’t blame him but this time it’s a bit too much for my taste. Here is the paragraph in question:
If I were John Tavares, I would be clear about my future and make certain I never play for the New York Islanders.
Tavares hasn’t said that much — and quite likely he won’t. But if I were in his position, as the logical No. 1 pick in June’s National Hockey League entry draft, I would pull a John Elway, an Eli Manning or an Eric Lindros.
And find a way to get out of playing for the Islanders.
If you think about it, why would anyone with dreams and aspirations of greatness want to play for the Isles?
They have become a Gertrude Stein kind of franchise: “There is no there there.” From the owner to the front office to the players to an old rink and older fan base, there is nothing about the Islanders that represents hope.
And, if nothing else, that is what Tavares can best represent for an NHL team come June. If I were him, I would rather have a say in my future rather than have it dictated by circumstance, or in this case, a lottery.
In a time where the NHL has had hardship after hardship, would they need someone like Tavares to do as this writer says and demand a trade before he even dons an Islanders crest? The guys over at Hockey Night on Long Island already have a great post about this – so I will just echo their feelings on this. In the grand scheme of things, Tavares would be the face of this franchise – he would help on the ice as well as off. It would be hard to ignore a player of his caliber mixed in with the already talented young crop of players the Islanders have, it would also be hard to ignore for those who are in charge of holding up the Lighthouse Project.
What this Toronto Sun writer fails to realize, he just opened up himself to an onslaught of angry emails from those in Islanders country – hope he has a few days of free time in order to read them.