Friday, March 25, 2011

NY Islanders Game Recap: Lack of Shots, Effort Leads to Thrasher Victory

There were plenty of fans at Nassau Coliseum last night.

Unfortunately, they all schlepped out to Uniondale to watch the New York Islanders sleepwalk through a game against the Atlanta Thrashers, who defeated the Isles by a 2-1 score.

When you muster just 15 shots on net, you're not going to win hockey games.

When you're being outshot 26-7 after two periods of play, you're not going to beat any team, whether it's the Thrashers or the Manitoba Moose.

Sure, New York had a fair share of quality chances and yes, Chris Mason did make some big stops. The loss is still inexcusable.

Why? Because the Islanders piled up the donuts in the "shots" column with the man advantage, failing to convert on four different powerplay opportunities.

In fact, the Isles looked like they were the ones shorthanded while they were a man up. The Thrashers controlled the flow of play for about 98 percent of the game.

Of course, the fact that Rob Schremp scored the difference maker for Atlanta did little to comfort the Isles and their fans.

Despite the lopsided time-of-possession numbers, the score remained close, largely due to Al Montoya's stellar performance.

Montoya made 32 saves, including several beauties. He was the best player on the ice for New York and it wasn't even a competition.

Though the Isles showed some life at the beginning of the second frame, with John Tavares netting a rebound goal off P.A. Parenteau's shot, Atlanta would regain control of the contest almost immediately.

The Islanders would not find that confidence again, with the exception of a few offensive bursts towards the end of the third period.

Michael Grabner created a few scoring chances using his speed, something we've become accustomed to and was stopped by Chris Mason each time.

Frans Nielsen and Jack Hillen (joining the rush once again) managed to generate a 2-on-1 break in the third, but could not finish it off.

The most disappointing Isles tonight (though a case could be made that the entire team belongs in that category) were easily Josh Bailey, Radek Martinek and Bruno Gervais.

All three of those players contributed to the lopsidedness of this game, turning over the puck in the defensive zone, almost always because they passed the puck right in front of the Islander net. Any seven year old peewee hockey player knows that's one of the sport's golden sins. You just don't do that.

Blake Comeau gets an honorable mention too. Comeau had a bad game, making horrible decisions with the puck, not looking to pass when he should have and trying to pull off moves that failed and lead to turnovers.

Making matters worse, the team announced that Andrew MacDonald will miss the remainder of the season with a muscle tear. Ty Wishart has been recalled from Bridgeport to fill the roster gap.

All in all, this was probably the team's worst performance of the season. It's one to put behind them right now.

The future is still bright in Islander Country, but such losses are just the growing pains of a young, relatively inexperience hockey club.

If anything positive came out of last night's loss, it was that the Isles received a wake-up call that if they want to become a force, they still have much to learn.

And learn they will.

Follow Daniel Friedman on Twitter: @dfriedman_isles

Comments are welcome.

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