A psuedo-live blog tonight as the Isles welcome Wayne Gretzky and his Phoenix Coyotes to the Coliseum. I say pseudo because I'm watching the game now on the DVR, and I didn't start recording until the second period, and at this juncture I know the Isles are up 1-0 on another goal by the reborn Bill Guerin, a hard-working goal that he shoveled in off the doorstep, fitting given the icy conditions on the Island tonight.
Let me tell you something -- having two kids, especially around the holidays is a LOT of work, and trying to watch every minute of every game is damn near impossible. But many of you know all about parenthood and also know it is all well worth the effort. Especially when my 5-year-old son yells, "LET'S go ISL-AND-ERS!" and then stomps his feet BUM, BUM, BUM-BUM-BUM.
Hopefully, he won't end up like this guy.
Anyway, back to the game, and are you like me and wonder why Gretzky is even coaching? You'd think that being the best player ever, and having won all those Cups and made all those millions, that he'd be happy in retirement with his kids and his super-hot wife, placing bets with Rick Tocchet and just enjoying life. And if he missed the game so much, he'd take some cushy front-office gig and just glad-hand people, and maybe coach his kid's youth team. Instead, he's struggling with the Coyotes of all teams, and you question whether he even likes coaching. I guess he does.
You wonder if maybe his kids just aren't into hockey -- maybe they're equestrians, or maybe they don't play sports at all and just play video games and text-message their friends while Gretzky says, "When I was your age my dad built me a backyard rink and ran me through drills and I stayed out there in the Canadian cold for hours and I LOVED it!" To which the kids respond, "Dad, we're playing Guitar Hero. Could you move away from the TV and get us some Cheetos?" Maybe that's why he's back.
You'd think he'd have a better gig then Phoenix. I know he lives in Arizona, but shouldn't he be coaching the Oilers? Or the Leafs? But what do I care -- he's a former Oiler and Ranger and I hope the Islanders stomp his team like narcs at a biker rally (thank you, Dennis Miller).
Seriously, back to the game and Marc-Andre Bergeron just scored on a sweet slap shot from the left circle and it's 2-0 Islanders in the third. Great work here, wasting no time setting up the play, and a great shot by Bergeron. That's what he's here to do.
Of course, the power play giveth and it taketh away. Phoenix scores a shorthanded goal, and that's been a serious flaw lately. You CANNOT give up those shorties, especially when your team is as offensively challenged as the Isles. This is a battle between the two lowest-scoring teams in the NHL, the Isles with a league-low 66 goals and the Coyotes just two better.
Hey now - the Islanders score again, and guess who? Guerin, playing with Comrie and Fedotenko again, puts it into an empty net with Ilya Bryzgalov down on the ice. Nice work by Fedotenko in the corner keeping the puck in play, where it finds Comrie cutting to the net. He slides it back through the front to Guerin, perfectly positioned. Great goal and it's 3-1 with 7:30 left in the third.
A few words about last night's 5-3 loss to the Sabres. The defensive breakdowns are killers, again especially when you can't score. But you liked the goals by Satan and Park, and hey, they did score three times! Sillinger's goal brought them all the way back to 4-3, but then Hecht's backhander between DiPietro's pads was the definition of a back-breaker. D.P should have had it and he knew it.
Phoenix on the power play and Kapanen scores, poking in a puck in the crease with just under four minutes left. Can't lose this game.
Coyotes showing some jump and DiPietro is stepping up, making a couple of nice saves as Phoenix presses for the equalizer. Then Gervais called for slashing behind the Islanders net with 1:17 remaining, Coyotes on the power play.
Nice save by DiPietro on a slapper by Jovo-Cop, and then he serves the puck into the Phoenix zone tennis-style. Phoenix with the empty net, good clear along the boards by Park, then D.P. makes another save -- then shoves Shane Doan, who shoves back and here we go! A scrum! Old-time hockey!
Then Jovo-Cop after things settle down nudges D.P., he pops him back and here we go again, with Witt looking to do some damage.
Just noticed that Ulf Samuellson is Gretzky's assistant coach - I'm hating this Phoenix team more and more.
Game over, Isles win, 3-2, DiPietro with 31 saves and a couple of left hooks for good measure. Two goals by Guerin. Maybe Saturday the Islanders can get four goals? Please, Santa?