An independent blog on the New York Islanders, the NHL and AHL by a guy from New York.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Isles Show Rangers A Little Love

Prior to tonights game at MSG, the Islanders are ranked 7th in the NHL for goals scored per game, 5th best on the PP and 3rd best on the PK.  So how have they lost 5 in a row?


1- Inconsistent play and irratic effort - Coaching.

2 - Soft 5 on 5 game.

3 - Not playing the body, fore check.

4 - Defensive game:

            Weak defensive play by the forwards.

            Defensive holes in their own zone and not physical in protecting their own net.

5 - Decline in goaltending performance.


Tonight, they visit the improving New York Rangers at MSG.  Head Coach Jack Capuano has consistently complained about his teams inconsistency and "battle-level."  He has mentioned there were players on the roster who weren't playing hard enough, likining them to passengers.  John Tavares and Travis Hamonic wore their disgust like a badge of shame after their last loss.

How will the team respond tonight?


Forwards: Moulson-Tavares-Boyes, Bailey-Nielsen-Okposo, Grabner-Aucoin-McDonald, Boulton-Cizikas-Martin.

Defensive pairings: Finley-Streit, Hamonic-Strait, Visnovsky-MacDonald.

Nabokov in net.  DP backing up.


In the first, the Islanders give up a goal on the 2nd Rangers shot less than 5 minutes into the period.  Boulton challenges Asham to stir things up.  Over 10 minutes gone in the first period, no Isles shots on net.  Rangers return to Isles zone, Gaborik gets 3 point blank shots to make it 2-0, Rangers.  The Islanders have no presence in front of their own net.  There is no physicality, no threat or punishment exacted for lurking there.  The Rangers have a 10-0 advantage in shots thus far.  Rangers call a time out with 2:28 left in period up 2-0 and outshooting the Isles 10-4.  Islanders come alive in final two minutes of period and pressure Rangers in their zone with a couple of shots on Biron.  Rangers outshoot Isles 11-6 while Islanders fall to a -13 in 5 on 5 play.  I've seen enough of this game to know that Jack Capuano can not prepare this team to be competitive consistently at the NHL level.


The second period started with line combination of McDonald, Cizikas and Martin, resulting in a goal.  Cizikas to McDonald.  2-1 Rangers.  Islanders have more jump, forcing Rangers to react to their pressure.  John Tavares and Casey Cizikas break up off a PK and J.T. gets a short handed goal.  Game tied 2-2.  :40 seconds later, Boyes makes it 3-2 Isles.  Crowd chanting for Rangers to put Lundqvist in the game.  Rangers still have a 15-10 shots advantage.  The Rangers, Haglein uses his skate to direct the puck to the net, then shoves puck into net as Ref waits on his intent to whistle.  Game tied at 3-3.  At least this game has a pulse, unlike the last meeting between these two arch rivals.  The Isles look as though they are fully engaged and back into the game.  The Isles outshot the Rangers 14-12 in the period, the Rangers with the game advantage in shots  23-19.


In the final period, both teams played a more even game.  They traded chances and made plays on both sides of the ice.  The Isles have been better at moving the puck this period.  The Rangers turn up the pressure but the Isles are able to withstand the onslaught.  Isles call timeout.  Nabokov is busy and he has been the answer for Isles late in the game.  Rangers outshoot Isles 12-7 in the third, 35-27 for the game.


The Islanders come into overtime buzzing with good offensive pressure.  Rangers make a sloppy change with 9 players on the ice, no call.  They booed Biron early, now they chant "Marty."  Nice.  Both Goalies good in O.T.  Both teams had 4 shots on net.



Rangers shoot first.

Gaborik stopped.

Neilsen scores!

Nash stopped.

Tavares wins it for the Islanders! 

Final: 4-3 in the shootout.


To sum up my thoughts on why Isles have lost the last 5 games, the Isles:

1 - Still inconsistant and irratic.  I think Coach Jack Capuano needs to go.

2 - Still soft 5 on 5, but got better as game went on.

3 - For the most part, Martin and crew played the body and got physical.

4 - Defensively, still suspect but made some strides.  Still way too soft in front of their own net.

5 - Evgeni Nabokov was just ok early, kept Isles in game later, .914 Sv% for first 3 periods.


John Tavares.  What more needs be said.  He is everything to the Islanders.  Brad Boyes hasn't arrived, but is at least getting better as time passes.  Matt Martin is a pressence that we expect to be there, and dont always appreciate everything he actually does for the team.  Casey Cizikas does everything quiety.  He is a factor and brings an energy that has been  a glaring loss from the line up when he isn't out there.  Colin McDonald is good at what he does as well.  Being an aggitator and scoring the occassional goal.  The Isles team defense got better, later in the game.  Lubo Visnovsky continues to show in his play what Garth Snow saw when he traded for him at the draft.  Frans Nielsen works hard and he is a reliable part of the Isles machine.

The Islanders woke up after the first period, and competed for the win against a good  New York Rangers team with a deep line up and are hot right now.  They need to continue cycling the puck, moving around the ice, playing a tight defensive game and play physical to pull out a win.  The offensive depth the team has developed came through in the shootout.
Per Arthur Staple, Several Isles said assistant coach Doug Weight delivered a blistering speech after 1st. "We deserved it, and we needed it," Nielsen said.

What started out very ugly, may be end up being a galvanizing moment for this Islanders team.  Or not.  We will see if everything stays the same with the coaching staff and line up which is the most likely scenario. If so, the challenge of consistency is renewed to them.  The Isles need to evolve and mature enough to know how to fight hard every night. 

Enjoy this one and rest on what they did correctly Islanders fans.  They bent, but did not break.


Isles Notes:

Per Arthur Staple on Isles vs Rags, Nabokov in goal, Reasoner, Ullstrom, Hickey out. Streit paired with Finley, Martin-Cizikas-Boulton 4th line.  Capuano wants more size in lineup tonight, felt Isles were outmuscled last week here vs. NYR.  Would expect Ullstrom back vs. NJ on Sat.

Per Daniel Friedman, "Any hockey team (Isles) that has four optional skates during a five-game losing streak is a poorly-coached hockey team."

Prior to tonight vs. the NYR, the Isles have 25 games until the trade deadline.  In that time, the teams success will determine a lot about how the roster may look for next year.

On February 13th, 1990, Isles Center, Bryan Trottier records his 500th NHL goal in a 4-2 loss to Calgary.

Sound Tigers Notes:

On February 13th, The Bridgeport Sound Tigers signed (F) Scott Campbell to a Standard Player Contract for the remainder of the season.

On February 12th, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, @JohnPersson21 score off a deflection from the slot past McElhinney at 2:14 of OT!! Sound Tigers earn huge 4-3 win over Springfield.

Valentine's Day Wishes:

Adam Proteau bids all a Happy Valentine's Day. May the love of your life never lock you out once, let alone twice in eight years.  Zing!

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