Prefacing this article, my apologies for not being on the site of late. I did have a little heart episode before Thanksgiving, and with a lot of things happening to me, I just did not have the patience to write. Of course, it coincided with the Islanders tough play. However, when my colleague, John Panarese sent me a note about the column that was written on another page, I had to start my article with a little commentary.
To the folks around the NHL, and some folks that write on this Fansided platform:
THE ISLES ARE NOT A DOORMAT!
With the comments made by my colleague in his Blackhawks page, he was bashing his team for allowing such a doormat team to push his beloved Chicago team to a shootout.
Let’s set the record straight:
The lowly Isles had 23 shots against his beloved team in the third period, and as a matter of fact, DOMINATED the Hawks, running circles around them. Al Montoya, despite giving up the four goals in regulation made some outstanding shots in his return to his hometown.
Matt Moulson and PA Parenteau got goals on the night, with John Tavares assisting on both of them. But it was Moulson, who scored in his third consecutive game, was a sign of what was to come the next night.
Although the Isles could not get the goal in the shootout, the Isles did not look like a lowly team to me.
And for my colleague in Chicago, remember a few years back, when your team was as much of a laughing stock, as you are projecting the Islanders to be. It was great drafting and getting the right players that propelled your team to the top of the NHL. It can happen here, just as easily as it happened there. So save your bashing to your own team, because they were extremely lucky to walk away with 2 points.
Now – that I got my rant out of my system – onto last night.
Walking into Dallas – the top team in the Pacific division was going to be a tough test. Even with the loss of their captain, Brendan Morrow, their top score in Loui Erickson, and their top goalie in Kari Lehtonen, Dallas was getting contributions from a gallery of sources, including Eric Nystrom, son of Bob. To win the game, they have to get under the skin of Dallas netminder Andrew Raycroft.
Number 26 in white, did JUST THAT!
The great attribute that Moulson has, is his uncanny knack to find a hole in front of the net, and put the puck there. He does not mind, actually, he thrives there. Not as many guys like to get involved in front of the net as much as there used to be.
Halfway through the first period, it was Moulson 2 – Dallas 0. Then a crazy goal by Dylan Reese, his first of the season, gave the Isles a 3-0 lead early in the second frame.
Then – Dallas came back.
Three goals in a span of about 5 minutes, evened the score at 3, including Nystrom getting the middle goal, his 10th of the season. In 21 games for the Stars, he has as many goals as he got in 82 games with the Flames in 2009-10 when he got 11. You could say that Rick DiPietro had a brain fart session. There were not difficult shots that got by him.
Once Dallas tied it up – John Tavares made an outstanding pass that went through four players stationed in front of Raycroft’s crease, to a waiting Moulson, open to take a slapper by the goalie for his third of the game and his 12th of the season.
Dallas again tied up the game at 4, only to see Moulson complete his four pack on a great give and go with Parenteau. That gave the Isles top line a combined 10 points for the evening. Tavares, without a goal in 13, got 5 assists in his last 2 games.
For the third period, a new netminder was out there for the Isles. DiPietro apparently tweaked his groin going on a side-to-side move. He will be re-evaluated today.
Al Montoya came on to pitch the one period shutout, making 13 saves along the way, with some of them of the fantastic kind, especially in the last 10 seconds of play, where he stopped Michael Ryder to preserve the 5-4 victory.
Nino Niderreiter was hit in the first period by Marc Fistric, giving him concussion like symptoms. He did not play the rest of the game, but he was alert and ok for travel after the game.
Michael Grabner also suffered a groin injury in the third period after a breakaway, and did not return. He will be evaluated today on Long Island.
Defensemen Milan Jurcina left the game, after blocking a shot, and also did not return. Expect a call from Bridgeport for the three game home stand this week. Andrew MacDonald should be back this week.
The Isles got 7 out of a possible 8 points on this trip, against some quality teams. This is not the team that is a hapless case of nobodys. This is a team that struggled a little to find its identity and hopefully this very successful road sojurn will lead to some home victories to add to the ledger, moving this team up the ladder of the conference standings.
Despite the struggles of November, the Isles are only six points from being in the thick of things. There are now more team that are now behind them in the total standings, with more to come over the next few weeks.
I have always tried to look at the positives of my team, and not try to put any emphasis on the negatives of the opponents. But after what happened the other day, I had to make my comments at the top.
Do not take this team seriously, and the Isles will hurt you. I think this will continue.
By the way – Islanders fans, stop by www.blackhawk.com, and give them a respectful comment about our Isles, and the kind of team that we think will come along.