UNIONDALE, N. Y.– Nothing says excitement like a Sunday matinee versus a bilingual organization from Canada with a giant yellow sponge, and his pink starfish sidekick running amuck throughout the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum all day eh?. Ahhh Barclay’s can’t come soon enough… But I Digress.
Today at 3PM the Isles will begin what is an enormous week of work for what seems to be an already tired hockey team. A team that appears more lost at home then the Griswolds on the east side of St. Louis overpaying for directions.
But with a new week comes… Oh who am I kidding with this defensive corps? Tomorrow begins a run of 5 games in 8 nights, the worst of which for the Islanders is that 4 out of the 5 are at home, where they are a, why would you subject your children to this 2-8-1.
This is the second meeting of the year between these two polar opposite franchises. The Senators took the first one 3-1 up in Ottawa just less then two weeks ago back on February 19th earlier this year.
Yet again we find the Islanders staring across at a team that is focused, and overachieving, wondering when will that be us? When will then be now? No disrespect to the Ottawa Senators but, no one expected them to even hang around since the loss of Erik Karlsson for the season. But they have certainly done so much more then just hang around. Since Karlsson’s awful Achilles injury the Sens are a most impressive 5-2-1. Couple that With Jason Spezza being likely out for the season with back surgery, and one has to look at their coach Paul MacLean as a candidate for the Jack AdamsTrophy, or at least his mustache anyway (man that thing is awesome!).
Ottawa is down their two best skaters, yet come into today’s tilt an impressive 12-7-3 good for 27 points, 5th in the Wales Conference. Mind you as well, the 27 points would be good for first place in both the Patrick and Sunshine divisions respectively. Kyle Turris leads the squad with 12 points, and the team has rookies at every position except where it counts the most.
The first half MVP for the Sens is clearly their net minder Craig Anderson. He has been stellar all season thus far for the Senators, yielding an 8-4-2 record with an impressive 1.49 GAA. Mr. Anderson’s 1.49 goals against is second only to the 1.46 put up by the we never, ever lose Chicago Blackhawk’s Keeper Corey Crawford. Couple that with a wall like NHL best .952 save percentage, and if my math is right (and it always is) Mr. Anderson is only allowing 4.8% of the shots he faces to light the lamp. Meaning for every 62.5 shots you muster versus Neo, you score 3 goals. That’s just net minding artistry folks. How does one spell Veznia again?
The man has simply been besides himself all year, and with the fact that his backup Ben Bishop played yesterday afternoon in a 2-1 loss to the Flyers, we can expect to see Mr. Anderson between the pipes today at 3.
Then there’s the New York Islanders. The Islanders are 29th AKA 2nd worst in the league with 73 goals against, and 30th in the league with 53 goals against during 5 on 5 hockey. To put that last stat in a bit of perspective for you, they are 6 goals worse or more than the 29th place Calgary Flames who have let up 47 goals 5 on 5, and (this is scary !) 29 worse or more then the league leading 24 put up by… Yep, tomorrow’s special feature matinee opponent the Ottawa Senators… I’m confident that Sam ‘Ace’ Rothstein is already well aware of this statistical Hindenburg we are floating in today, and has notified the proper people back in NY.
Fortunately the Islander special teams have been respectable this season, with the power play churning at a 23.5% efficiency good for 5th best in the league. However (always a caveat with our Isles) it’s operating at only an 18% success rate at Ft. NeverWin, good for only a mediocre 16th best in the league at home. The Penalty kill is a very respectable 84.9%, that’s good for 7th in the league, and has done a good job all year of keeping games close. So as has been the case all season, if we can avoid the 5 on 5 aspect of the game, we are an elite organIzation.
John Tavares did not skate at practice yesterday, no word of any injury, just a well deserved day of rest with this up coming gauntlet week ahead. Rest up Jonny please, we are 0-7-1 when you don’t get a point, DO NOT DISTURB!!!
The Islanders are coming off a spirited effort on Thursday night in their 5-4 sudden mediocrity overtime loss to the Maple Leafs. One that saw Kyle Okposo‘s finest effort by far this suddenly not so young season. A 3 point night, with a goal and 2 helpers, and a physical presence all over the ice was just what the doctor ordered for this young man.
I’m gonna say it, cause if you say something enough times, someone is going to believe you. Thursday night’s performance from Kyle Okposo will be the norm not the aberration for the remainder of the 2012/13 campaign.
His poor play early on can be directly attributed to the fact that he simply was not in any kind of game shape. Okposo’s new found energy, and determination will earn him a trip back up to the first line. Where he can put to use his gritty, physical play like on Thursday to open up some space for John Tavares, whom in my opinion has been taking an unnecessary beating since Brad Boyes replaced Okposo on our top line.
A SOUND TIGER ROARS !
Most, probably read the headlines that Rick DiPietro was shelled in his first game back in Bridgeport, yanked after letting in 5 goals on only 12 shots versus the Whale on Friday night. Well Ricky had a nice bounce back win last evening as the Sound Tigers defeated the Philadelphia Phantoms 4-3 behind DiPietro’s 22 save performance, earning Rick’s his first win of any kind this season… Hey folks a win, is a win, is a win.
I’ll take it, and I’m sure Rick will too. Got to give the guy credit he’s not a quitter. Most importantly for Islander fans is he left the game unscathed (as far as you know) cause after you read The Rhyme of the Ancient Islander (and I thank you for your time) you know that if he gets hurt in Bridgeport then the Isles cannot buy out his contract next season. So the win is nice, but his ability to remain unhurt is the real story here!
Stretch Ricky.. Push that pelvis waaaaay up there…
Isles Sens today, 3pm Uniondale, NY
Attempting to capture the Spirit of the thing…Scotty Bonner
P.S. Have a Nice Day !! :0)
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Topics: Ben Bishop, CRAIG ANDERSON, ERIK KARLSSON, HOCKEY, Islanders, Isles, Jack Adams, JASON SPEZZA, John Tavares, Kyle Okposo, Kyle Turris, New York Islanders, NHL, Ottawa Senators, PAUL MACLEAIN, SENS, SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS