Middletown, N. J. – As the anger and frustration fade over yesterday’s disappointing finish to game three of the Eastern conference quarter-final, we turn our attention to what the Islanders have to do better to survive their battle against the Penguins and the National Hockey League officiating crews, whomever that might be on any given night in this series.
- The power play has to get going. The officiating aside, and it was atrocious at times, the reason the Islanders lost this hockey game was not because of the leaning call on Brian Strait. Instead, it was on the failure of the Islanders to even threaten the league’s 25th ranked penalty kill while up 2-0 in the first period and tied 4-4 late in the third. With Mark Streit and Lubomir Visnovsky manning the point, there is absolutely no excuse for the ineptitude the Isles have shown in this series when up a man. Too much standing around, no traffic in front and an unwillingness to shoot the puck have all doomed the power play when it really needs to be at its sharpest. Today was an optional skate and most players did not take part, so here is to hoping that Doug Weight can figure things out tomorrow in practice. 1 for 11 in the series, following a 5 for 30 April is just not going to get it done in May.
- Defensive coverage has to tighten up. Mark Streit standing around while John Tavares lazily marks Pascal Duprius led to the third Penguins goal, a horrendous line change led to the Douglas Murray marker that made it 4-2 entering the third and Frans Nielsen and Michael Grabner getting caught too high in the penalty kill box and not recognizing the triangle play the Pens were executing led to the OT winner.
- Evgeni Nabokov has played alot of hockey this season as a 37-year-old. One has to wonder if the shot he took off the noggin in game one is affecting him more than he is letting on. People can point to him being the difference maker is the Islanders even getting to the playoffs but was that indicative of Nabby or the defense in front of him limiting quality scoring chances? Except for the last two periods in game two, he has looked very beatable, especially high to the glove side, and you just cannot win in the playoffs without your goaltender being your best player on most nights. Seems to be overplaying almost every shot and not executing his angle control very well.
I will post this to the readers…….
- The Montreal-Ottawa series is clearly becoming the one to watch going forward. After last night’s parade to the locker room left each team with about 6-8 players on the bench for the last six minutes of the third period, Ottawa holds a 2-1 series lead. The Canadiens are proving to be just what they are….A fast, skilled but small team that can be pushed around physically. Ottawa plays with the heart and soul of a champion behind unanomois Jack Adams award winner Paul MacLean. But Mr. MacLean and Habs bench boss Michel Thierren are not too pleased with one another right now. After MacLean could not remember the Habs roster by name and made some questionable comments following the Lars Eller incident in game one, he was called out harshly by Thierren and Brandon Prust. Last night, while winning 6-1 and going on a power play with a minute to play, MacLean thought it would be a fantastic idea to call a time-out. This series is reaching critical mass and is about ready to exploded. I would not be surprised to see more fisticuffs break out early in game four.
- Just what is wrong with the Vancouver Canucks? They went back to Corey Schneider last night in an attempt, at home, to stop the Sharks momentum and turn the series around. Instead, they flopped and follied their way to a 5-2 loss that puts them in almost a no-win situation. You cannot put this on Roberto Luongo, Canucks fans…He has stayed a true professional through all the personal turmoil he has gone through this season. Your team just does not seem to have the character needed to get out of the first round and make a deep run to the Cup.
- I have a feeling the Rangers are due for a big performance on home ice tonight. They are not far away in this series, even though down 2-0. They have the best goaltender in the Eastern conference, arguably in the league, in Henrik Lundqvist. Scoring remains the big problem for the Rangers. Rick Nash is the only player providing any real challenge to Braden Holtby, who has had it pretty easy in terms of quality chances over the first two games. More bodies are needed in front and more jam from Ryan Callahan would be a welcome site for the Blueshirt faithful. For, if they do lost tonight, they can certainly start making those country club tee-times and Caribbean vacation plans.
- The world of social media never ceases to amaze me. Today, while scanning through, I should not have been surprised that Penguins fans are making themselves out to worse than any other fanbase in hockey and shall I say, even approaching Raiders and Eagles territory in the National Football League. I don’t understand why some people just can’t disagree and debate respectfully without resorting to high school taunts and personal barbs. Time to grow up people. Just to fill you in…..NOBODY on the Penguins roster even knows you exist. Just saying.
- Move over big brother…..we got this……The Islanders (2.3) drew higher ratings in NY on NBC Sunday than the Rangers (2.1) did on NBC Saturday.
To complete this piece, here are some videos from around the web that highlight the atmosphere that was Nassau Coliseum yesterday. I will regret not being able to attend for the rest of my life. What an atmosphere and everyone in attendance should be proud of themselves. Your work is not done however. Expectations are raised now for the people going tomorrow night. BE LOUDER!