Alive & Well… Isles stay in playoff picture, hold off Panthers 3-0 gain point on 8th place…


Uniondale, N.Y. – We were all well versed on the importance of yesterday’s contest. We all knew in our hearts (where hockey matters) that if we were to leave the building yesterday with anything less then two points that our season was done. The fans knew it, the coaches knew it, and it certainly seemed as though Evgeni Nabokov and rest of the players were well aware of it last evening as the Isles staved off emotional elimination defeating the Florida Panthers 3-0 before a nice crowd of 14,512, and 4 super-heros at the ‘ole Barn.

The Isles again started fast and furious out working, out hitting, and outshooting their opponents  14-3 in the first stanza ( where have I heard this before?). Here in lies the quagmire that is being an Islander fan. Do we applaud the boys for a job well done? Or do we sit around and say yep 5th straight game we have had a good first period I’m not getting excited to after the 3rd?

Well my friends it is of course your right to do the later (and Fraaaankly who could blame you?)

However there is something to be said for fast starts and our third period woes aside it is still better to play from the position of a lead then from behind.  So try to see the glass as half full.  Or as often helps me with this organIzation when times get tough (these past 3 games) try to see it as: Well at least they are not moving to Seattle…. But I Digress…

The Power play got the job done yet again at the 6:05 mark as A-Mac Andrew MacDonald let go a seeing eye “Laser” off of some very nice tape to tape puck movement by his teammates. Travis Hamonic, to Kyle Okposo, to Frans Nielsen, to A-Mac, to the twine.  Just the way Dougie Weight drew it up !

The horn sounded the stanza closed, and the Isles felt pretty good about their effort in the first.  However I think we’d all be lying if we failed to admit some internal discomfort not only from scoffing down dinner in a rushed like manner to make it to 5pm opening face off, or the disturbing revalation that the Green Goblin had apparently taken control over one of our Zambonis and had yet to relinquish his devious plan, but rather the fact that we again dominated our opponent only to have a one love lead at the end of one.

The feeling was a little less discomforting because it was not the Penguins in the other locker room, but still the Isles should have had a 2-3 goal lead after the first, and failed to do so.  This is of course not at all a big deal if you go onto win said contest, which is why as of recently it is a big deal, did you get all that? Good !

In the 2nd Evgeni Nabokov really shinned, looking sharp, controlling rebounds, and stopping all 12 shots the Panthers threw his way.  The Islanders continued to pound the body in the 2nd with heavy hits by Colin McDonald  Casey Cizikas, and of course Matt Martin on opposing Cats. When the Isles make a commitment to finishing their checks and the fore-check they seem to be the team that are “supposed” to be.

Although the period ended 1-0 the Islanders seemed to have at least their B+ game with then through 40… However as we all know there is no greater source of uncertainty for an Isles fan than the term “through 40”

During the second intermission one can only ponder what goes on in the Isles cramped but if we were real estate agents I supposed we’d say “cozy, retro” locker room? Wondering how our squad would emerge for the final stanza of what truly was the last 20 minutes of the season should they fail to secure this win.

…And with the period just nicely under way.

The first two minutes of the final stanzas have not been, well shall we say productive ones for our boys. In three out of the last four games the Isles have surrendered goals within the first 2 minutes of play in the third periods. The other game versus these very same Panthers we managed to hold off the opposition till the 5:09 mark.  However they would go onto tally 3 goals in under 103 seconds… So nevertheless to say it was difficult to fight off the overwhelming feeling of doom as the teams emerged for the third period of play.

With seemingly the weight of the world pressed squarely upon their shoulders the Islanders to their credit stayed the course, and played the same game that had given them mild success in the first two stanzas.  The energy was there, and most importantly the hitting and sense of urgency was certainly there.

It was by no means easy for the Isles to hold off the Panthers last night.  For a last placed club I have to say that they certainly gave an effort which is a testament to their coach Kevin Dineen. Throwing everything, and the kitchen sink at Nabokov in a desperate attempt to tie the game, as the Isles scratched and fought to maintain their fragile 1-0 lead, and season.

Nabokov held his ground, made up for Thursday nights poor performance, and the Isles went onto to win 3-0 on consecutive empty netters by John Tavares (which occurred right at after the highlight above ended), and Casey Cizikas.

Nabokov earned the 1st star and 3rd shut out of the season stopping all 26 of the Panthers shots, and the Isles won a must have gave 3-0.. Whew that wasn’t easy!

Coach Capuano:

Many including myself have been displeased with Coach Jack Capuano as of late, and to be honest we are right to be so. What with the Isles home record an all time bad 6-11-2 (with the win last night), the 3rd period collapses, and his (in my opinion) misuse of current talent. We have had every right to be unhappy, many even calling for Cappy to lose his job.

I have to concede to be fair that I’ve been inching closer and closer towards the fire Cappy bandwagon then ever before, as you all know form my recent posts (which I thank you so much for taking you precious time to read by the way.) However if we take a brief moment to look at his body of work, we may not want to remove him from his post just yet.

Small caveat needed here.  As Islander fans I feel we are a unique bunch.  We have been mistreated and given so little over the past two decades that at times it would appear that all we have is each other. As we are left out in the cold, baron, wasteland of NHL draft parties, and lack of respect or attention or playoff series victories for that matter.  However it is pertinent that as Islander fans we remain honest to each other (keep it real as the youth of today would say), because like I said sometimes we are all we got!

With that being stated I want to be clear that had the Isles lost last night to the lowly Panthers and we were suddenly only 3 points from the 30th and worst position in the NHL this next paragraph would come across drastically different. But we didn’t, we won so ponder this as you start your day today if you will.

Last night was the 3rd time this season where we truly saw the season on the brink of utter collapse and despair.  And for the 3rd straight time this team has responded with effort and more importantly results.  The prior two times were Valentine’s day at the Garden versus the Rangers, and February 21st in Montreal.

The Islanders came into the Ranger one on a 5 game losing streak and at the time the atmospheric feeling was “oh well there goes another season.” The Rangers jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in this one, and it all seemed near over. However this Jack Capuano led Islander team rallied and found a way to win 4-3 in shoot outs, returning the team from the brink.

Only a week later coming off of 2 bad loses one a 7-0 drubbing at home in front of a sell out crowd at the hands of the Flyers, the Isles went to visit 1st place Montreal. Again down 2-0 early they found a way to get 2 points and win in sudden mediocrity overtime 4-3.

Last night riding a brutal 3 game losing streak that has been as painful to endure as any of the futility that has come our way the past two decades. The Isles found a way to win, and yet again bring their season back from the brink of disaster.

So? What’s your point? Glad you asked… If Jack Capuano was such a horrendous coach this team would have quit on him, at any of these pivotal crossroads of the season. Each and every time the team has responded with effort and results.  You do what you will with Jack Capuano, and he may not be behind the bench to start next season, but for me I have held off on purchasing that ticket to the Fire Cappy Bandwagon, and think it best to let the final 16 play out before even revisiting this again. Last night’s 3rd season saving effort is good enough for me. Cause if we make the post season dance no one will be calling for Cap’s head, and well… We just might make it…

Quick notes:

  • One can only hope that the shortened conference only season and schedule will shed light on the utter stupidity that is the NHL points system we have been forced to live with.  Again last night we see two games involving 4 teams we are neck and neck with awarding 3 points total where the most any individual team can earn is 2.  Please NHL fix this, listen to your fans and RIGHT THIS AUTROCITY before we take to the ice for the 2013-14 campaign!
  •  Matt Moulson‘s played his 278 consecutive game. The only Islanders with longer consecutive-games streaks are Billy Harris (576) and Bob Nystrom (301).
  • Evgeni Nabokov‘s 3rd shut out of the year. Islanders have not had 3 shut outs in a season since Rick DiPietro did it in 07-08.
  • 8 Islanders recorded a point in last night’s game.
  • Colin McDonald led all Isles with 8 hits.
  • Black is the new Blue. Isles have won 2 straight in their black jerseys while losing 3 straight in the “Home” blues…
  • Another huge week with tilts on Tues, Thus, and Sat versus Caps, Flyers and Pens as Isles head out on a four game road trip ( Thank God).
  • We are only 2 points out of the final playoff spot in the Prince of Wales… STILL IN IT!!!

Thank you everyone enjoy your day !

Scotty Bonner

Tryin to capture the Spirit of the Thing…

P.S. Have a Nice Day !! :0)

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