Four times this season, the Islanders have let the first shot of the night hit the twine.
This is enough to make people want to throw up their dinner.
Tonight – against the Rangers, this is the last thing that they would want. After the ‘effort disappearance’ in the game on Sunday in Vancouver, the Isles need to get the energy and passion back in the lineup.
The common thread dictated by the Isles over the last 10 games, is trying to play a 60 minute game. That has not gotten from the ears to the bodies. I am not slamming the lack of effort – it is just the results that are being analyzed. This group is a bunch that take pride in their work ethic and cohesiveness with each other. A bad bounce, a near miss, all of the possible cliches can be the cause of seeing effort turn into a negative.
And having the Rangers come into Uniondale can be the perfect panacea for this hockey club.
There will be NO DOUBT that the decibel level will be high tonight. The Ranger fans, fresh off a 6 win streak will be loud and proud; and well they should be.
What the Isles need to do – is to come out guns ablazing. If it means sitting Kyle and/or Blake, so be it. They need to gain that ‘pissed that I am sitting’ attitude, and want to play like there is no tomorrow. The Isles have done that on numerous occasions against the Blueshirts (well – white tonight), and it needs to stick its head out again this evening.
The Defense needs to be not only physical but relentless. I know that Travis Hamonic will bring that to the table. Mark Streit does not need to be the physical presence, but his positional play has been quite good, and has made him one of the NHL’s comeback surprises so far this season. As far as the others, Steve Staios has played solid and really can not fault his efforts. It will be the nubmer 5 and 6 spots (Mike Mottau and Mark Eaton) – that will need to bring their game up another level. They have not been up to snuff, and being the veterans that they are, know that it is not out of the realm of impossibilty to make it so.
Up front – someone other than the guy with MARTIN on the back of the jersey needs to bring the physicality to the game. So far – Brian Rolston has not been the goal scorer that he has been. I will give him credit for the fact that he will try to shoot whenever he can. The rest of his teammates need to invoke that philosophy.
As far as the net is concerned, I do not know who is between the pipes, but again, some consistency and some ‘step up and take charge’ attitude needs to be prevalent. Ranger games tend to do that for the Islander netminder. Here is wishing for that to be out there again tonight.
Can the Isles win tonight? They sure can – but they have to forget what has happened in the past, and concentrate on NOW. This is game 1, make it so.
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