Hockey From The Blind Side, Isles Shut Out Capitals, Solid Recovery
By John Panarese
Congratulations to Evgeni Nabokov for earning his first shutout as an Islander. The New York Islanders 3-0 win last night was also the first shutout the Isles have gotten this season.
Unlike the game against the Predators Monday afternoon, in which the Islanders did not often play well defensively, they were all over the Caps. The Capitals, in fact, only got 17 shots on net and Alex Ovechkin was really not a factor, except for taking a penalty that led to PA Parenteau’s second goal of the game in the 3rd period. It was an impressive rebound and one of those kinds of games that leave Islander fans shaking their heads in bewilderment. If they could show up every game like they did against the Redwings or the Capitals, they would be in the thick of the playoff hunt.
John Tavares, who had the only goal of the game against the Preds, opened the scoring against the Caps for the Islanders with his 17th of the season. Then, PA Parenteau netted his 8th and 9th goals of the game, which was all the Isles needed. It was a very nice way to come off a back to back set and to recover from a fairly poorly played game on Monday. It also ended a 7 game winning streak for the Capitals at home.
I will combine some “blind observations” from both Monday afternoon’s loss to the Predators 3-1, and the 3-0 victory over the Capitals last night;
• Not to make excuses for the guy, but after playing so frequently for Bridgeport, Kevin Poulin sat for six days straight before getting the start against the Predators. Additionally, his teammates did not help him much with a rather bad defensive effort. After giving up 3 goals in the first, Poulin settled down in the 2nd and 3rd, stopping 29 of 32 Predator shots overall.
• The Islanders simply cannot afford to take a “night off”. Some teams can get away with still coming out on the winning end of a game they did not play well in. The Isles are just not at a point in which they can do that.
• It’s interesting that the Predators started Pekka Rinne against the Islanders, but chose to go with their backup, Anders Lindback, against the Rangers.
• It’s amazing just how well this team can play when they show up with a sixty minute effort. Talk about smothering the opposition, and doing so against a team like the Capitals.
• The Bailey, Rolston and Martin line, in particular, did an awesome job defensively.
• Once again, Travis Hamonic and Andrew Mac-Donald got the job done on the back line. Ovechkin showed his frustration win he crosschecked A-Mac and took a penalty that led to an Islander power play goal.
• Even though Nabokov only faced 17 shots, it was great to see him get the shutout. He deserved it with his solid play of late.
• It was nice to see some of that secondary scoring the Islanders have not been getting much of. This is a factor that will continue to have to be change for this team as the rest of the season unfolds. Parenteau, Grabner, Bailey, Rolston and others need to consistently step up and take pressure off of the top line.
I will probably write a post on the topic and touch on a few things in regard to it, but I personally am not surrendering the season. I’ve been reading a lot about the old “draft pick” positioning and all of that nonsense. I’d rather see nights like last night played by the Isles and have them gain respectability and progress in the standings. To me, a 20 or so finish overall and being10 or 11th place in the Eastern Conference final standings is FAR more appealing than a 26th or 30 spot overall.
In any event, the Flyers are up next. The Islanders travel to Philadelphia on Thursday before coming home to face
the Hurricanes on Saturday. If they can play the Flyers like they did the Capitals, they will have equal success and come away with 2 points. That, to me, is the bottom line.
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