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Another lackluster and sluggish performance this evening by the New York Islanders, as they force a shootout against the Buffalo Sabres only to lose on a failed 5-hole attempt by John Tavares.
The first period bore witness to more lazy and disoriented backchecking, likewise in regards to puck cycling inside the Isles’s own zone. Turnovers and lackadaisical defensive play have defined this seemingly unfocused club as of late, especially this entire week. The Islanders stumble a bit into the postseason, garnering zero points in the past three games; their last regulation win was back on 18 Apr against the Toronto Maple Leafs–a game that now in hindsight seems to have been the apex for this rollercoaster type of season.
Ryan Miller ends his career as a Sabre on a win, but the organization will see to rebuilding around the likes of Jhonas Enroth, Thomas Vanek, and Steve Ott for quite a few years to come. There but for the grace of the Hockey Gods go the New York Islanders, shuffling down their respective runway, into the locker room and into their short time off; having many more questions to answer than they had expected at the end of the aforementioned Leafs game.
The Isles are playing “dreadfully,” but most assuredly the emotional high of having reached the playoffs may have sapped some of their momentum and gusto. No one should be too worried about this outcome, or that of the last two games, especially having seen Evgeni Nabokov play solidly in goal throughout the night.
You have a hot goaltender, you have a shot to win. And win big. I say, bring on the Penguins. Have faith, Islander nation. The regular season is over, but not our hopes and dreams for this club. The fun’s just beginning.
- Because they failed to garner at the least one point in last night’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers, the New York Islanders’s postseason seeding is tenuous at best.
- First period a bit more of an energized Islander club, skating legs showing some of the old pep familiar throughout most of April, but overall the momentum was touch and go among both teams; Islanders’s forecheck lacking spirit on the onset even; Sabres outshoot Isles in the first 10 to 9
- More sloppy and sluggish play in the defensive zone for the Islanders: Kyle Okposo with miscued clearing attempt ,and Buffalo’s Brian Flynn capitalizes, scoring at the 3:29 mark of the second
- Refs blow a call early in the second: Thomas Hickey receives a blatant high stick that causes an obvious cut on his face. Regardless of the blood all over his jersey, no Sabre is called for the infraction.
- Michael Grabner picks up the temp for the Isles on a breakaway late in the second….but to no avail.
- Islanders flat once again at the beginning of the third period, trapped in their own zone for considerable amount of time. Team playing with little identity tonight and for this entire past week
- Nabokov solid in the OT Shootout, but Sabres and Miller beat the Isles
- Senators, Rangers still have hockey to play, and depending on those results, it will either be the Penguins or Bruins. (I say the Penguins is the better draw)
- Not to worry: If the Islanders face the Pittsburgh Penguins, keep in mind that New York hasn’t lost a 7 game series to them in their history: ’75, ’82, ’93: thank you Eddie Westfall, John Tonelli, David Volek
- Evgeni Nabokov looks sharp in the first, handling odd man rushes and stopping a partial breakaway. He was caught off position at times, but his vision on the ice looks to be in tune and ready for the playoffs by the end of the first
- Matt Carkner and John Scott draw penalties after a scrum; Carkner faces off against a taller and heavier opponent in Scott and holds his own
- Michael Grabner picks up the tempo for the Isles on a breakaway late in the second
- Early in the third, Evgeni Nabokov stops Thomas Vanek on a breakaway. Rest assured Nabby is ready for the playoffs–at this point, the only one who appears to be, in any case
- The Islanders “Dump and Chase” catching Ryan Miller off guard, and Keith Aucoin scores the tying goal. 18 games scoreless streak comes to an end. March 19th against Ottawa his last time lighting up the lamp
- Thomas Hickey is the game’s unsung hero: play a solid board game, doing the Isles’s dirty work along the corners
- Aucoin’s goal put back a sense of urgency in the Islanders’s forecheck
- Last 5 minutes of the game, we see an uptick in Islander speed and skating
- Jack Capuano sat Hickey and Carkner for last four minutes of the third period
- Aucoin draws a hooking penalty in OT, and the Isles do play vast majority of the period up a man, but teams go to the shootout nevertheless
See you all in the postseason.