Tonight, your New York Islanders face the surging Toronto Maple Leafs led by Isles fan favorite, Dion Phaneuf.
Head Coach Jack Capuano: "We need to be better with our sticks & positioning on D, but offense also needs to get to the tough areas & take away goalie's space." He adds, "We're looking for a spark. We need the energy that someone like Boulton brings to the lineup."
Boulton's play is the spark the Islanders were missing? Really?
Forwards: Moulson-Tavares-Boyes, Bailey-Nielsen-Okposo, Grabner-Cizikas-McDonald, Boulton-Reasoner-Martin.
Defensive Pairings: MacDonald-Hamonic, Hickey-Visnovsky, Finley-Streit. Nabokov between the pipes.
The Islanders start the first period with some good energy. Josh Bailey makes it 1-0 Islanders on the 1st shot of the game from his knees off a nice feed from Kyle Okposo and Andy Mac Donald. Per Arthur Staple, its the first time Isles score on first shot of game so far this season. Bailey puts another off the post shortly after the goal. Almost 2 for 2 there. Kadri scores for the Maple Leafs with Andy Mac Donald out of position, tieing the game at 1-1. Michael Grabner breaks in on net, gets pulled down. Penalty shot awarded. Grabner goes high, wide right. Grabner is 0-2 in penalty shots this season, and the Isles, 0-3. Per Eric Hornick, "Grabner 1/5 in career pen shots; Isles have failed on 17 of last 18 home penshots (Grabs had only gl-last April)." Game still tied, 1-1. Toronto fans start a "Go-Leafs-Go," chant in a silent Colisieum of 9,222. Isles fans answer back. Toronto outshooting New York 9-6.
In the second period, the Isles get pressure in Toronto's zone, and John Tavares scores in the ensueing scrum. The officals investigate and wave it off because it was tapped in above the crossbar. Later, Casey Cizikas sets up Lubo Visnovsky (with Andy Mac Donald) for a lazer that beats Reimer, 2-1 Islanders. It is Visnovsky's first goal as an Islander and first of the season. Evgeni Nabokov keeps the Islanders in the lead with a few big saves following the go ahead goal. The Maple leafs keep up the pressure and see Kadri and van Riemsdyk make it 3-2 Toronto in :90. The Islanders need to be better on changes and defensive responisibilities. They have kept Toronto in the game. Reimer is unable to hold the puck on control any rebounds. New York needs to elevate there physical game and scoop some garage into the net. Kadri scores a Hatrick on a rush through a loose Isles defense. 4-2 Toronto. Isles outshoot Maple Leafs 11-10 in period. Toronto holds a 19-17 shots advantage in the game.
They third period starts with a Isles goal waived off because it hits the post and never actually went in to the net. The Isles keep coming and this time, their efforts pay off. Andy Mac Donald (Streit and Okposo) scores his first of the season with a blast from the right circle. Score is now 4-3 Toronto. The Isles need to be more physical and crowd the Maple Leafs net. Time out, Toronto. Officals have punched out in the game, penalty free thus far. The Isles are getting a little more physical. Kyle Okposo with a blast from a top the right circle midway through the period. Awesome goal. Hopefully, that will jump start Okposo's offensive punch. He's 1 and 2 for 3 pts. tonight so far. Game tied, 4-4. Evgeni Nabokov, quietly contributing to the defensive stability when the team needs it, but he can only do so much. Reimer loses puck behind net, Moulson mishandles and Toronto clears. That was a huge scoring opportunity missed by Moulson. Isles take time out with :45 to go in the period. Nabokov with a big save and Isles press Toronto net, time expires. Isles out shoot Leafs 9-8 in period, Toronto with the 27-26 advantage in the game. No penalties called in regulation.
Michael Grabner hits a post seconds into O.T. John Tavares with a split lip on the bench. Defense watches as Phaneuf beats Okposo and shoots past a sprawling Nabokov (.852 Sv% tonight) for the score. Maple Leafs win by a score of 5-4. Isles get a point, but lose at home. Again.
Secondary scoring was on point tonight with Bailey, Lubo and A Mac getting their first goals of the year. If Josh Bailey and Kyle Okposo come on, the offense becomes much harder to defend. If Frans Nielsen can just join his linemates on the scoresheet, this is a good second line. If Lubo, who has been a solid defensive and PP addition catches on offensively at even strenthg, threat level rises again. The Isles continue to fight and the Cizikas' and Martins bring emotion to their game.
Goalposts and waived off goals add to the fans frustrations. Despite the efforts of the Islanders, a couple of mistakes and a bad change results in 3 Toronto goals in 5:17. This team is to fragile to be coached by Jack Capuano. They are sloppy on changes,soft, defensively vacant, undisciplined and erratic. Far to many defensive breakdowns and soft defensive play by the forwards on the back check. Too little, too late. Good effort, but not enough. Blah, blah, blah ....
The Islanders have the players to comptete now if they work hard and play aggressively. A few more additions and call ups, and they get even better. An experienced NHL Head Coach would be great.
Consistency is the key. The Isles seem unable find the lock.
Tonight's penalty free game was the first for New York since a game in 1980, when the Isles played the Hartford Whalers.
Brian Compton observes, "Isles have yet to win a game this season without scoring a minimum of 4 goals.
Per @mirtle, Frans Nielsen is 24-for-39 (61.5%) in shootout attempts - the highest percentage among players with at least 13 career attempts.
Per @NHLhistorygirl, "On February 29, 1984, Isles Pat LaFontaine and Patrick Flatley made their NHL debuts."
Sound Tigers Notes: