As Gary was at the game and posted a full recap, I just wanted to add my own thoughts. This was the first game in a few that I got to hear from start to finish.
This was not a matter of the Oilers not showing up to play. As Gary indicated, there was a lot of good skating and exciting play in both ends of the ice. All of the scoring occurred before half the game was over, but it was not a case of the energy and excitement ending. No, the third period, to me, was just as entertaining and, in fact, I think the Isles played their strongest period in the final frame.
Without a doubt, all four lines contributed in various ways. The “top line” certainly led the way again, but from top to bottom, all four Islander offensive units generated chances and played well in both ends of the ice.
On top of that, the Islanders came to play on a day that honored Ken Morrow, one of the most important and quietly classy guys who ever put on an Islander jersey as far as I am concerned. It was great to hear the “Wolf Man” spend some time in the booth during the second period with Howie and Butch.
Defensively, the Islanders also got the job done as well. There were no glaring mistakes that I can recall, and Steve Staios did a nice job in his return, blocking shots and, to me, not looking out of place.
Of course, Nabbie was solid again in net as well. He stopped 28 of 29 shots and had to come up with a few big saves.
All in all, it was a very impressive team effort and a great way to end the year.
As some “blind observations” from the game that come to mind;
• Matt Martin showed so much maturity and discipline. The guy just continues to impress me game in and game out. As much as a Sharp angle as his goal was, he still was going to the net and shot the puck.
• John Tavares …. I don’t know what additional compliments and praise that I can offer the guy. He is so noticeable out there and literally can take over a game. As an Islander fan, it’s something I haven’t experienced in many years from a player and I am simply loving it.
• Matt Moulson scored his 17th goal of the season and had a 3 point game. I know … I know Hockey Central guys …. if he wasn’t playing for the Islanders, he’d be a third line left winger … riiiiight ….
• Evgeni Nabokov is making me a believer. I admit I was hard on the guy last year and had a lot of doubts about his presence on the team at the start of the season, but he is starting to look like the “Nabbie” of old.
• Having been a NHL GameCenter subscriber for three or four years now and having caught a lot of hockey games throughout that time, it amazes me that Ben Eager continues to be …. … Ben Eager. Every guy has a role, but this guy would give me fits as a coach for the stupidity I have witnessed him display when he played for other teams like the Sharks and BlackHawks. He really hurt the Oilers yesterday with simply undisciplined and bone headed actions.
• Nino Niederreiter needs more ice time. Having him on the fourth line is not going to help this guy develop. The talent and skill is there, and he needs the ice time to gain confidence at the professional level.
• Josh Bailey has turned his game around. I’ve mentioned it before, but the guy is playing both ends of the ice well, being physical and making plays. It’s good to see because he’s one of the types of guys you really want on your hockey team as far as attitude and personality goes.
• It was a very nice and overdue gesture to add Kenny Morrow to the Islanders Hall of Fame. Ken is a class act and one of the best we ever had who wore the blue and orange for us. Hats off to the Islander organization once again.
As Gary mentioned, it’s off to Raleigh to play the Hurricanes on Tuesday. With games against the Ducks and Coyotes coming up as well, these are points the Islanders need to earn. One game at a time, 2 points at a time, but progress can be made with a string of wins.
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