Sunday, October 9, 2011

FLA 2, NYI 0: Time to Hit the Panic Button? Hardly

The Isles' highly-anticipated home opener went sour, as they were defeated by the Florida Panthers by a 2-0 verdict.

Naturally, this was an immense letdown for the fans, both those who packed the Coliseum and those watching at home, and by the end of the third period, the frustration and pessimism began to resurface.

While certainly not an inspiring performance, the season's not over. Teams do not make nor miss the playoffs on day one. This holds true whether you're the Islanders or the Red Wings, it doesn't make a difference.

Additionally, save for a few rare exceptions, just about every team lays an egg once in a while. We've seen good teams get beat up by inferior ones before.

So let's relax with the "there goes another season" and "same old Islanders" rants. It's premature.

As far as the Isles' play last night, there's a lot to be frustrated with, there's no question about it. But there were also some positives (believe it or not).

There's something to be said for damage control. The Islanders gave up two first period goals and were visibly agitated with themselves and with the direction this game was going. This easily could have been a 4, maybe even a 5-0 game by the time all was said and done.

Last year, that probably would've happened, but this is a new and improved team, and sure, they could've done a better job on offense, on the powerplay, but for all their mistakes last night, they were determined not to let this game get out of hand.

You had Josh Bailey chipping and grinding, blocking passes and clearing the crease, even Michael Grabner blocked a couple of shots. Yeah, they'd have probably liked to score more, but give some of these guys credit for stepping in and making sure the score remained 2-0.

Speaking of credit, Al Montoya deserves some too. He played a solid game, making 25 stops on 27 shots faced last night. If Montoya was nervous out there, he hardly showed it, and that's another big reason why the score wasn't lopsided.

I thought the Islanders got a bit better each period, and hopefully by tomorrow they'll have shifted into high-gear.

As far as the on-ice officiating was concerned, here's what I had to say:

Yes, the refs missed not one, not two, but THREE tripping calls that should've put the NYI on the powerplay, but they also missed calls that should've gone against the Islanders too. They were inconsistent on both sides. John Tavares had two gorgeous scoring chances, largely due to the fact that he was about a mile offsides and the zebras missed the call.

It's not the NHL's fault the Isles lost this game, this one's mainly on the defense. They were beat, plain and simple. Guys like Mike Mottau, Andrew MacDonald and Mark Eaton were horrific last night, and as a result, the Panthers had all day to set up in the offensive zone.

Better yet, because the puck was on Florida's sticks so often, New York's offense had little opportunity (or time) to create their own scoring chances, which was a major reason why the red light never did come on behind Jose Theodore.

Not a good night for the Frans Nielsen-Michael Grabner-Kyle Okposo trio, they were completely out of sync with each other and could not generate any sort of pressure with the puck.

That's not to say some of those players didn't have their moments, but they were isolated and unrelated instances that came on powerplays or shorthanded rushes, situations when the three weren't on the ice together.

John Tavares looked pretty sharp and had some nice scoring chances, particularly in the first period. He'll be fine, as will the Islanders' offense, just give it some time.

The fourth line, consisting of Matt Martin, Jay Pandolfo and Marty Reasoner was easily the team's best last night. They brought lots of energy and managed to create some offense. It's an encouraging sign, the more lines you have that can contribute, the better off you'll be.

Brian Roloston looked comfortable out there on the powerplay. He may be up there in age, but my goodness, he happens to have one heck of a slapshot.

Travis Hamonic, Mark Streit and Steve Staios were solid on defense, though each has what to work on.

Fortunately, there are 81 more games left in the season. Look for the Islanders to bounce back tomorrow, when they take on Dany Heatley and the Minnesota Wild.

Comments are welcome.


Anthony said...

Good write up. Exactly how I felt.

gabriel saffran said...

nicely said danny culdnt agree more

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