Don’t spike the ball at the 10 yard line: Isles-Bruins Pre Game thoughts.

 

Deer Park, N.Y. – Along with the current 7-1-1 streak the Islanders have nicely put together in the past two weeks comes a new point of view. A perspective that the invitation to the post season dance is now theirs to lose. As things stand at this very moment with only 8 games remaining, the Isles are in the playoffs by 2 points with a game in hand over the 9th place Winnipeg Jets.

Are you in? Or are you out?

Although amazingly intriguing; the position, points, and teams that are log-jammed between the 6-8 seeds (and for that matter even the 3 seed) are, when all is said and done, irrelevant. All that truly matters is the line in the sand that separates those who make the post season and those who do not.

It has been a wonderfully amazing social experiment, how quickly the atmosphere of an entire organIzation (fans included) can change, almost on a dime. Winning fixes all. To the Islanders credit they have, by their on-the-ice determination and play, changed the perception from that of laughing stock, to that of model for future rebuilding projects to emulate.

Where once the “Twitterverse” rang out only negative vibrations calling for Garth Snow, Charles Wang, and Jack Capuano‘s proverbial heads on a nightly basis, now is over run with notions of an upcoming Cup run, and the possibilities of the Isles reaching even the 5 spot in the Prince of Wales conference.

What me worry?

This new vantage point, this new playoff perch has me to be honest, worried. Not because I do not believe in this team, because I think we all do. To take it even a step further, one can literally feel how the crowd is falling in love with this team. Win the Crowd…

Why not? I mean take a step back here with me for a moment, what’s not to love? They out work, out hit, and out muck opponents almost every single night. They play a style of aggressive forechecking hockey that is so much more exciting for us as fans than that God awful 1-2-2 trap. They have their center-piece superstar implanted. They have their heavyweight ready to go at a moments notice should things get feisty out there. They have versatile, puck moving defensemen. They have a cagey veteran net minder, they are very young. They have a coach that the boys play very hard for night in and night out, and to top it all off they are miles below the cap struggling to make the floor rather than watching their heads on the ceiling. What’s not to love?  No, none of this is what is worrisome.

What has me concerned is the unknown. The question yet to be unanswered is, the hunter is now the hunted, and how do we respond? It’s a different mentality needed now, it’s a different point of view attempting to slam the door shut on teams trying to catch you rather than being the team trying to kick the door down. We know these boys have the mettle to get into a position to make the playoffs, but do they have the intestinal fortitude to withstand the onslaught to take what they got? Yes.

Can they do it? Can they finish off these next two weeks strong and make the dance? Of course they can, and they should, and therein is the new point of view, there my friends is the new atmosphere, there is the unkown…

Tonight versus B’s

In what is my opinion the best team in the NHL on the docket tonight from Boston our boys had best bring their A-game with them to Beantown. All their hard work recently doesn’t mean a thing to the big bad Boston Bruins, and they will chew up and spit out any opponent who fails to bring their best to their arena.

Michael Ivins-USA TODAY Jaromir Jagr

The Isles bring with them a 7-1-1 streak in their previous 9 tilts earning them 15 of a possible 18 points. The first time since the 09-10 season they have collected so many points in so few games.

The team’s commitment to defense has lead the resurgence allowing just 14 goals over the 9 game span. Giving up just 1.55 goals a game. Defense wins… (you know the rest).

2 Ends of the Spectrum:

The Bruins are dead last in home power play percentage with a shocking 9.6% efficiency. While the Isles have the 2nd best road power play at 24%. Overall the Isles power play is good enough for 9th best in the league. The Bruins power play is mired at 24th. Their penalty killing unit is tops in the league and will prove a good test to the Isles excellent road power play.

Good Problems

Suddenly Jack Capuano has a nightly decision to make both at forward and with his defense corps. With the additions of Anders Lee from Notre Dame, Jesse Joensuu back from injury, coupled with the good play of Keith Aucoin, Capuano now has many options up front. There are 2 spots for these three players available nightly, and it seems Aucoin is not getting scratched any time soon, nor should he.

On defense it appears that Radek Martinek and Matt Carkner have been alternating almost nightly as the 6th man in on the Isles rotation of defensemen. Both have played well when called upon, although both play two drastically different styles of defense. They give Capuano versatility when making out the lineup card.

They both have played so well that it has been difficult to say which guy you’d like to see in there on any given night. Personally I feel the team seems to just run smoother when Martinek is out there. However I truly enjoy the old school play of Carkner. (Way to take a stand Scotty).

Perhaps soon the Isles will get even deeper as David Ullstrom has been activated and loaned to Bridgeport but has yet to participate in a game. Good problems Garth Snow and Jack Capuano are not accustomed to, not yet anyway.

Evgeni Nabokov will be in between the pipes as will Tuukka Rask this evening as the two number one goalies square off in Boston. Nabby is 6-1-1 with a 1.48 goals-against average in his past eight starts. While Rask is  6-1-0 with a 2.25 GAA in eight career starts against the Isles. Could be a low scoring affair?

 

 

Tonight is truly a road test for the Isles, as they enter the fray an impressive 11-5-2 on the road. The Bruins are no easy pickens at home though, Boston’s 30 points through 18 home games is their best record at this point on home ice  since they also had 30 points with a 13-1-4 mark through 18 home games in 1985-86.  The B’s have gone a torrid 8-0-1 in their last 9 at the Garden, and 14-2-2 for the season. No easy task for the “don’t call us upstarts” New York Islanders tonight in Beantown. However if you want the label “road warriors” here’s your chance to earn it.

Wounded Bear

I truly hate to write the word “fortunately” when referring to someone’s injury on an opposing team’s squad, but the Bruins are no where near 100%. With Patrice Bergeron still sidelined indefinably with a concussion and now the injury to Brad Marchand last night, the Bruins enormous depth at forward will be put to the test. By the looks of the hit on Marchand the B’s will be without their top two leading scorers headed into what is for them the 2nd half of back to back games tonight.

To Win We Gotta

  • Role 4 lines all night. Wear the B’s down. They are shorthanded, and played last night in Jersey.
  • Get it in deep, muck, muck, muck, and do our homework. Play the game in the Bruins end of the ice. Get it deep, keep it deep
  • Maintain the pressure. Keep up what has been working, the aggressive fore check. Led by the Frans Nielsen, Kyle Okposo,, Josh Bailey line. Continue to apply pressure on the puck as the Bruins attempt to transition from defense to offense. Give them no easy outs of their zone. Pressure, pressure, and more pressure on the puck.
  • Win face offs. If everyone was as good as Okposo has been in the face off circle we’d be in the 4th seed not the 8th.
  • Out hit them and see to it that Matt Martin gets no less than 15 minutes of ice time and some power play minutes as well.
  • Enter with the mentality that we expect to win and become a self-fulfilling prophecy, then we can all turn our attention to Saturday night and the Rangers.

Quick notes:

  • Isles are 0-2 versus Boston this season.
  • Matt Moulson has goals in 2 straight games, if he reignites, then perhaps we should start to look at first round possibilities.
  • Another nights of NHL Chutes and Ladders as the Isles could emerge anywhere from 6th to 9th after the contest.
  • The Bruins and Islanders are meeting for the 150th time in their franchise histories, The Bruins have a 77-48-21-4 record and a 519-443 scoring edge in those games.
  • The Islanders have never shut out the Bruins on their home ice.

Side Notes:

  • Don’t forget to check out “The Hub” at eyesonisles.com for all goings on in the Islander world. Pre game music to set your atmosphere for the game, tweets, sound bytes, you name it, it’s your one stop shopping for all thing New York Islanders… * I highly recommend reading all Eyes on Isles pieces with the music blaring… Just sayin…
  • Please keep an “eye” out for daily Islander-Ranger pieces from Eyesonisles.com as we take you right up to the big one Saturday versus the Rangers from the ‘ole barn.
  • Our latest Isles/Rangers piece is live at:  http://eyesonisles.com/2013/04/10/the-isles-rangers-rivalry-little-brother-is-all-grown-up/
  • Below is a “thank you” for your time enjoy the game everyone !

 

Thank you.

Scotty

“Tryin to capture the Spirit of the thing…”

P.S. Have a Nice Day !! :0)

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Topics: Boston Bruins, Charles Wang, Evgeni Nabokov, Garth Snow, Islanders, Jack Capuano, Jaromir Jagr, John Tavares, Josh Bailey, Kyle Okposo, Matt Carkner, Matt Martin, Matt Moulson, New York Islanders, NHL, Playoff Push, Stanley Cup Playoffs, Tuukka Rask

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