Sunday, December 30, 2007

Game recap: Islanders 5, Devils 2

And we thought the Toronto game was exciting.

The full house at the Coliseum Saturday night not only saw the Islanders score five -- count 'em -- FIVE goals in a game but were also treated to some Eddie Shore-type hockey, with a handful of fights and tough defense as the Isles went 4-0 against the Devils this season with a 5-2 victory. It was the Isles' fourth win in five games and the first time the team scored as many as five goals in a game since Oct. 18.

Quite a bit different than the 5-2 loss at Ottawa two nights earlier. Instead of being bombarded with shots, winning goalie Wade Dubielewicz had some help in front of him, and his defensemen not only clamped down on Jersey but joined the attack, with three d-men scoring goals.

Chris Campoli, who loves to jump in on offense, got the Isles the lead with a shorthanded goal in the first and then Marc-Andre Bergeron scored on the power play in the second. The Devils rallied to tie, but then Andy Sutton of all people scored what proved to be the game-winner, one-timing a nice feed from Mike Sillinger from the top of the slot. Sean Bergenheim finally scored a goal, ending a 25-game drought, and Mike Comrie added the empty-netter. Sillinger had another strong night with three assists, as did Richard Park, who had two helpers.

Sutton recorded the Gordie Howe hat trick, with a goal, assist and a fight, taking on Michael Rupp. It was the third bout of the evening. Comrie and Mike Mottau threw down in the first after Comrie creamed Mottau with a devastating hit. Bill Guerin and David Clarkson exchanged pleasantries right before the Sutton-Rupp main event.

As if that wasn't enough good news, Kyle Okposo has signed for three years at $2.55 million. Okposo helped the USA improve to 3-0 at the World Junior Championships in the Czech Republic with a 3-2 win over Russia, assisting on the first goal of the game.

Okposo will join the organization when he returns but it isn't clear whether he'll report to Bridgeport or make the jump to the NHL immediately. Figure the Isles, as long as they're winning, play it safe and start him with the Sound Tigers while Garth Snow weighs his options on how to improve the team for the playoff push.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Game recap: Islanders 4, Maple Leafs 3 (OT)

This was one of those good news/better news/bad news games for the Islanders. The good news is that Wade Dubielewicz proved that he can step it up for the team when they need it. The better news is that Dubie's stellar play in the third period and overtime helped the Islanders win their third straight game, a 4-3 victory over the Maple Leafs Wednesday night at the Coliseum.

The bad news is that the reason Dubie was in goal in the first place is that Rick DiPietro suffered a knee injury in pregame warmups and lasted just the first period, in which the Islanders scored three goals, which if my math is correct represented a 300 percent increase in scoring efficiency compared to the last six weeks.

DiPietro was scheduled to get an MRI and be reevaluated Thursday, and as of 11:15 a.m. there has been no update. DiPietro will not make the trip to Ottawa for Thursday night's game against the Senators, so Yoda will need to use the force again tonight.

Mike Comrie scored twice, including the OT game-winner off an assist from Richard Park, who had a career-best three assists in the game. Of course, Park made the winning play as the final seconds of overtime ticked away by stealing the puck from Jason Blake, making his return to the Coliseum as a Maple Leaf. Blake was treaded well by the Islanders with a video tribute and was mostly well-received by the crowd, so there probably more than a few pangs of pain when he his giveaway led to Comrie's game-winner with less than 10 seconds left on the clock (right, Dee?).

It was a fabulous play by by Park, who has been one of the team's best players this season. He stole the puck at the Islanders' blue line, broke into the Maple Leafs zone and fired a shot of which a Toronto defender got a piece. But Comrie was there charging to the net and put the puck past Andrew Raycroft, another backup getting rare playing time.

Park has the opportunity to make that play thanks to Dubie, who got some help from the crossbar on a shot by Mats Sundin but was otherwise a stone wall as he made four BIG stops in the OT in a shooting-gallery atmosphere.

Another interesting development was the significant playing time afforded Blake Comeau and Freddy Meyer, particularly at the end of the game. Comeau has some serious jump and it's clear that Ted Nolan is going to give him the opportunities to help the team. I love the fact that there are so many young players contributing to a team that is also winning.

It was a thrilling victory, to be sure, and it was great to see Dubie coming up huge. But let's not kid ourselves - the Isles need DP back, pronto. Let's hope he's OK.

Tom Liodice of The Tiger Track (who had a great live blog of the game) says Joey Macdonald of the Sound Tigers will back up Dubie tonight in Ottawa.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Game recap: Islanders 3, Capitals 2 (OT)

OK, so they only scored three again, and they lost the lead with less than a minute to play in regulation, but the Islanders still prevailed and sent the home crowd to the Christmas break happy with a 3-2 overtime win.

What you have to like about this team is that there are so many players that you want to root for. Take Richard Park. He never takes a shift off and he does pretty much whatever Ted Nolan asks him to. And with every shift he's taken on more responsibility, and is now much more than a fourth-liner and penalty killer. He played up with Mike Comrie and Bill Guerin tonight, and the line put in two of the Isles' three goals.

Park's game-winner came off a faceoff win -- again, the little things -- and was aided by the fact that Caps defenseman Mike Green accidentally got hit in the face by teammate Jeff Schultz as Park worked the puck. With Green down behind the net, Park took a wrister from the left circle and found the five-hole, igniting the pandemonium.

Miro Satan, as he did the night before, got the Isles up 1-0 with a second-period wrister. The Caps evened the score and it was 1-1 late in the third when Chris Campoli fired a blast at Olaf Kolzig. Bill Guerin was there for the rebound -- he's coming around again -- with what looked to be the game-winner. But Washington stunned the house when, with Kolzig pulled, the dangerous Alex Ovetchkin beat Rick DiPietro, forcing OT.

Credit Radek Martinek and the Islanders' defense for not only limiting Ovetchkin all night, the way they did against Sidney Crosby the night before, but for holding the Caps to just 14 shots on goal. Kudos also to Chris Botta, who was honored for 20 years with the team. Nice work, Chris -- you've been great to us bloggers and the Isles are lucky to have you.

In other news, an interesting take on the Kyle Okposo situation in the New York Times. I couldn't agree more.

And Nolan had extra reason to smile Saturday night when son Brandon made his NHL debut for the Carolina Hurricanes, where of course he plays for ex-Isles coach Peter Laviolette. Brandon got an assist on Carolina's first goal in its 4-1 victory.

So with no games until after Christmas Day, allow Still Drivin' to wish a Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Game recap: Islanders 4, Penguins 2

Break out the New Year's champagne early, folks. The Islanders finally broke the three-goal barrier. That they won on the road against the division-rival Penguins is perhaps more important than the goal total, but when you look at how this team has struggled offensively, it's nice to have finally popped that cork.

Since November 1, a 23-game stretch, the Isles had not scored more than three goals in a game. Two-goal leads may as well have been 20. But now Blake Comeau is in the house. In his second game with the big club the 21-year-old assisted on Andy Hilbert's game-tying goal and scored what proved to be the game-winner with a slap shot midway through the third. Just 37 seconds later, Trent Hunter gave the Isles a two-goal lead to secure the victory.

A quick primer on Blake Comeau (not to be confused with Weezer lead singer Rivers Cuomo or Lake Como, the Italian Rivera resort where George Clooney lives large with supermodels): He helped Team Canada win gold at the 2003 U18 tournament in Russia, and then led the Kelowna Rockets win the Memorial Cup a year later. In 2005, Comeau scored 21 goals with 53 assists for 74 points in 60 games, and also helped Canada win gold at the IIHF Under 20 World Championships, leading the team in points under head coach Brent Sutter. So the guy is a winner.

He had 12 goals and 31 assists for 43 points with the Sound Tigers last season. He wasn't exactly setting Bridgeport on fire this season, with three goals and six helpers in 25 games, but he has a great opportunity now with Chris Simon suspended for 30 games.

Comeau teamed with Hilbert and Tim Jackman for a productive line, while Miro Satan scored 44 seconds into the game for his fourth point (three goals) in four games against the Pens this season.

Up next, the Capitals tonight at the Coliseum in what Isles fans hope will be an early Christmas present. Hope to see many, many of you there!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Isles lose Simon, lose to Sabres, but gain Okposo

While it may seem hard to believe that Chris Simon got an NHL-record 30-game suspension for what he did to Jarkko Ruutu, I can't argue with the decision by Colin Campbell. This is the new NHL, after all, and you have to take into account a player's past transgressions, and Simon is currently one of the league's worst offenders and should not -- cannot -- be on the ice.

Simon's seventh career suspension in 15 seasons was his second in nine months, coming on the heels of the 25-gamer for whacking Ryan Hollweg in the face. I thought that suspension was a bit harsh considering the circumstances, but the league has a zero-tolerance policy now and all the players know it. And while tripping Ruutu and then stepping on his foot isn't nearly as bad as the fouls committed by Jesse Boulerice or Steve Downie, or the cowardly hit by Dale Hunter on Pierre Turgeon, or Todd Bertuzzi's sucker punch of Steve Moore, it's still, in Campbell's words, "repugnant and totally unacceptable."

It's good to see that Simon will undergo counseling "at the behest of Charles Wang" according to Newsday, and everyone who knows the Islanders knows Simon is well-liked and respected by his teammates. Here's hoping he can resolve whatever issues he has, but his time on the Islanders is very close to an end.

Regarding Campbell's comment that Simon would meet with "drug and alcohol doctors," that's typical Campbell. The guy seems to be a few cents short of a dollar, and Ted Nolan was right on the money for calling Campbell's comment "idiotic" as well as racially insensitive. But we're not surprised.

Meanwhile, the Isles fell to .500 with a 2-1 loss to the Sabres at the Coliseum Wednesday night, despite outshooting Buffalo, 43-17. Credit Ryan Miller for making several big stops, but it's the quality of chances that count, not the quantity. The power play lost its recent momentum, going 0-for-5. Brendan Witt, of all people, scored the only goal with a great screen by Sean Bergenheim, who has really played well lately.

All those shots couldn't get the Isles the lead, and then Maxim Afinogenov provided the backbreaker with a backhander with 2:17 left in the third. A 6-on-4 with DiPietro pulled came up empty, and now the Islanders have only won two of their last 10 games. The offensive problems are really taking their toll now.

But help COULD be on the way in the form of Kyle Okposo, which is making our pal Ken at Okposo Net a happy man - even moving him to compose poetry! The seventh overall pick in the 2006 draft was struggling in his sophomore year at Minnesota after a fine freshman year, and decided to call it quits and go pro. Unhappy playing center for coach Don Lucia (and with the Golden Gophers playing like, well, gophers) Okposo will represent the U.S. at the Under-20 World Juniors next week in the Czech Republic and could be an Islander (or at least a Sound Tiger) in January, if they can work out a deal - which they should.

The 19-year-old Okposo is a stud, a guy who can really help on the right wing, and the Isles could use some new blood up front. With Freddy Meyer and Blake Comeau playing against Buffalo, is a major shakeup coming? Probably not, but some change is needed to snap this team out of the goal-scoring doldrums.

Just one last note on the attendance Wednesday - just over 10,000. Not horrible, but the pattern of sparse weekday crowds and big weekend crowds at the Coliseum was not lost on Mike and the Mad Dog, who opened last Friday's show -- believe it or not -- talking about the Islanders. Francesa actually watched some of the game against the Coyotes, and - admitting he knows almost nothing about the Islanders - had praise for, as he put it, "number 28." Told it was Tim Jackman, Francesa said he liked what he saw from him, but didn't have much to say about anyone else.

Thanks for the insight, Mikey.

Russo harped on the attendance, noting that it was terrible weather against a Western Conference opponent, but he still didn't think those were reasons enough for so many empty seats. He has a point - you would like to see more fans and it's something I've noticed - but the weather combined with the who-are-these-guys Coyotes PLUS the way the Isles have been playing lately doesn't add up to a sellout, no matter how you slice it.

So should we be happy that M&MD took some time to talk Islanders hockey? Or should they stick to football, tennis and horse racing?

Monday, December 17, 2007

Game recap: Penguins 3, Islanders 2

Plenty of Islanders fans and personnel (and this blogger) have defended Chris Simon these last few months, noting that he is a good teammate and person and shouldn't be judged for the swipe he took at Ryan Hollweg's head last season. And by all accounts, Simon is a good guy who has made some bad decisions.

What he did against the Penguins, however, goes well beyond that and there is no defense for it. Slew-footing Jarkko Ruutu as he's stepping into the bench is one thing. Intentionally stepping on his foot with your blade while he is down is quite another.

It doesn't matter what the situation is, or how tense the game is, or who the opposing player is or what he may have said or done to possibly instigate such an act (and Ruutu has a rep) -- it's wrong, and Simon had plenty of time to think about it. That it happened with less than six minutes left in the third and the Isles down a goal makes it more mind-boggling. What was accomplished? How does that help the team? You have to be smarter than that, there's just no excuse.

The five-minute match penalty just about killed any hope of an Isles comeback, although they did have some shorthanded chances, including a great one on a breakaway by Mike Sillinger that was stopped by Dany Sabourin.

That the Islanders were that close seemed unlikely after a first period that saw the Pens dominate, jumping out to a 2-0 lead with goals less than four minutes apart. A giveaway led to Sidney Crosby's goal and then Ryan Whitney beat Rick DiPietro (37 saves) with a wrist shot. (Full disclosure, Whitney - like D.P. - went to my alma mater, BU, and is on my fantasy hockey team. So I wasn't THAT upset.)

Give the Isles credit for battling back at home, netting two in the second on a nice goal by Richard Park off a feed from Mike Comrie. Then just 45 seconds later, a beautiful breakout from Bergenheim to Vasicek to Satan and then back to Vasicek charging the net, tying the score. Things were looking up and the crowd was rocking.

It didn't last, as Tyler Kennedy (three points) scored on the power play to put the Pens up, 3-2, before the end of the second. It was Pittsburgh's only PPG in six chances.

The Isles will get ready for the Sabres at home Wednesday night (can we draw more than 10,000 on a weeknight?), and wait to hear from the NHL about Simon, who will likely get the seventh suspension of his career. You have to question what he's bringing to the table at this point, and whether it's worth it.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Game recap: Islanders 3, Coyotes 2

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?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Isles step up for Lighthouse Cup

We all know how much the Islanders do for the local community -- just check out their website -- but here's one you may not have heard about.

The annual Long Island high school ice hockey all-star game was the Vytra Cup, and it matched the best in Suffolk County against the top players from Nassau in a showdown on the Nassau Coliseum ice. Well, with little notice, Vytra pulled its sponsorship of the game, putting the annual event -- which is a tremendous opportunity for these kids -- in jeopardy.

The Islanders didn't allow that to happen, stepping in as the game's sponsor and renaming it the Lighthouse Cup. The game will be played on Monday, January 21 (Martin Luther King Jr. Day) at 5 p.m., after the Islanders' 2 p.m. game against the Hurricanes. And the Islanders aren't just sponsoring the game, they are broadcasting it LIVE on their website on Islanders TV for anyone who can't make it in person.

That's a tremendous move by the Islanders to support Long Island hockey and give as many people as possible the chance to enjoy it. So why not take in a holiday matinee and stick around to see the best young players in Nassau and Suffolk face off? Now THAT's an afternoon of entertainment.

I'll of course be rooting for Suffolk, which will have my buddy Frank Pasquale of the Connetquot/Sayville T-Birds behind the bench.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Game recap: Islanders 3, Lightning 2 (OT)

As goes Bill Guerin, so go the Islanders.

Certainly seems that way after Guerin's first goal in 16 games gave the Isles a 1-0 lead in a game that they eventually won in overtime, 3-2. Guerin had registered just one assist in his long scoring drought, which has coincided almost perfectly with the Islanders' current stretch of 18 games scoring three goals or less. We knew Guerin was going to be key to the team's success, but that's ridiculous.

Mike Sillinger netted the game-winner in OT, converting on the Isles' second power play of the overtime to snap their five-game losing streak. The power play played a significant role in the game in more ways than one. Both of Tampa's goals came with the man advantage and both were scored in the third period by Mike Richards, including one on a 5-on-3 late in the third that forced the OT. Andy Hilbert put the Islanders back on top, 2-1, after Richards' first goal.

Tampa's power play was ineffective in the first, with the Islanders missing out on not one but two shorthanded breakaways, one by Sillinger and another by Richard Park. Then in the second, Tampa had a 5-on-3 advantage where Richards broke in alone on Rick DiPietro, only to see D.P. come up huge (again). DiPietro finished with 32 saves and was called the Islanders' "best penaty killer" by Sillinger.

The win came one night after the Isles were blanked by Florida, 3-0. Tomas Vokoun made 25 saves but wasn't tested too much, which has been typical of the Islanders in this stretch of offensive mediocrity. DiPietro did his best to keep the team in the game, stopping Stephen Weiss on a penalty shot, but Weiss score two minutes later on a power play anyway.

The Isles' four-game road trip ends Wednesday night in Buffalo, followed Thursday by a home game against the Coyotes. Plenty of good seats available, for sure. Come on down!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Game recap: Thrashers 4, Islanders 3 (shootout)

Ted Nolan wasn't happy with getting a point on the road, and we shouldn't be either, even if the Islanders finally scored more than two goals.

Of course, it was only three, and that's 16 games now that the Isles haven't scored more than that. But hey, baby steps.

The power play this time not only wasn't terribly productive (although Trent Hunter's goal in the third did come on the man advantage, tying the score), it was COUNTER-productive to the extreme as the Thrashers scored TWO shorthanded goals in the second period. Just awful.

The second shorty was the third straight goal by Atlanta, which erased a 1-0 deficit to go up 3-1. On the bright side, the Isles didn't fold on the road and battled back on goals by Sillinger and Hunter.

Slava Kozlov and Ilya Kovalchuk scored in the shootout for the Thrashers while Guerin and Satan failed for the Isles. DiPietro complained to the officials about Kozlov's hesitation move, claiming he skated a step back, which is against the rules. No matter - goal.

On a side note, the Thrashers' home sweaters are absolutely terrible, with ATLANTA down the left sleeve. Whoever designed that would certainly get an "auf weidersehen" from Keidi Klum on 'Project Runway.' (My wife watches the show. I watch for Heidi.)

Monday, December 3, 2007

LIVEBLOG: Bruins 3, Islanders 1

Another liveblog from the Coliseum to see if the Isles can bounce back against Boston. Jeff Tambellini was brought up from Bridgeport to inject some life into a moribund offense. Tambellini has seven goals and 14 assists in 20 games with the Sound Tigers and will play tonight with Mike Comrie and Miro Satan.

Ted Nolan stated before the season that Tambellini wasn't the kind of player who is suited for toiling on the fourth line, and if he was to play with the big club he'd have to produce. Well, Jeff, welcome to the first line. And score some goals, will ya?

Fedotenko will skate with Vasicek and Guerin while Bergenheim plays with Sillinger and Hunter, with Park-Simon-Hilbert rounding out a forward set that needs to get on the board three times tonight. Is that too much to ask?

Also of note, Bruno Gervais is a healthy scratch tonight as the Isles go with the traditional six defensemen. Berard and Bergeron will both be out there tonight. Again, it's about goals.

If you're wondering why no post after the 4-0 loss to the Thrashers, I also ask - why? What's the point? That was ug-leeeee. Let's forget it ever happened.

Tambellini gets involved early with a big hit and has a couple of looks. Interesting to see Zdeno Chara not only wearing Larry Bird's number 33 for Boston on the Coliseum ice, but also wearing the captain's C. It got me thinking, how many former Islanders are currently captains in the NHL? That'll give me something to do between periods.

Comrie gets a golden opportunity with 5:09 left in the first on the doorstep with Tim Thomas down, but he can't lift it into the goal. One goal isn't going to do it tonight, fellas!

Isles on the power play, Jeremy Reich gets the gate for tripping. That's Reich as in "reach out and trip him" and not Reich as in "Third Reich." Thank goodness for him. One good chance on a shot from the slot but otherwise, that power play went by in a hurry.

DiPietro keeps it 1-0 with two good stops on Chuck Kobasew right in front in the final minute. End of one, Bruins up 1-0, Isles outshooting the B's 11-8.

Answer to our first period trivia question - two former Islanders are currently captains on their respective NHL teams - Chara and Olli Jokinen of the Florida Panthers. Those were the two guys I knew of off the top of my head, and that's all there is. I did look up every roster on to double-check. That's the kind of effort you'll get from this blogger. It's the J.T. way.

By the way, as bad as the Isles have been on offense, has ANYONE lamented the absence of Alexei Yashin? Didn't think so.

My Blog Box neighbor Jim McGlynn and I talked a bit about the Isles' scoring woes between periods, and though the team has treaded water in the last 11 games, playing .500 it is a slippery slope and if they don't snap out of it, you get the sense it could all go downhill. The presence of DiPietro has prevented that so far, but how long can that last?

Isles on the power play again and the snakebitteness (Is that even a word? It is now) continues. Bergeron blasts a shot wide right (hit the net, please) and then Satan is absolutely STONED at the right post by a Thomas pad save off a rebound of a Berard shot from the point. DAMN! No goals.

Boston with a chance at the post but D.P. covers up. Hard to believe that a two-goal deficit would be such a big hill to climb. But it is. And it is sad.

It continues - Satan passes up to Vasicek in front to Fedotenko with the net open at the left post - WIDE! You get the feeling that when the Isles finally score this place is going to explode like it did when Tonelli fed Nystrom. Except with about 6,000 less people. You get the idea.

I've mentioned in the blog before that when the horn sounds here, the frequency of vibration makes my iBook freeze for a couple of seconds while it's blaring, and sometimes I think the next one is going to fry it for good. But if that's what it takes to get this team to score a lousy goal, I'm willing to sacrifice the laptop. I'll take one for the team.

The game has settled into a mode where, if I were watching at home on the DVR, I'd be watching it on the first fast-forward setting.

Isles kill a penalty with Hunter in the box, then Witt tries to wake up his mates by drilling Kobasew into the boards. It doesn't work. Bruins go up 2-0 moments later when Petteri Nokelainen steps in on a breakaway after a miscue by Sutton and beats DiPietro high on the stick side with under two minutes left in the second. Islanders, meet the two-goal mountain.

Isles get a power play chance with 47 seconds left in the period when Marco Sturm goes off. Bergeron breaks his blade on a shot from the point. Hunter fires wide from a low angle. End of two, 2-0 Boston, and based on recent history, you can beat the traffic and not miss a comeback. I hope I'm wrong.

Keeping you informed: The difference between nachos grande and the nachos with cheese: salsa, sour cream and jalapenos. That's a dollar well-spent.

Start of the third, Isles with 1:13 left on the power play. Twenty minutes of desperation to follow. Nothing doing on those 73 seconds, and it's come to this - fans are chanting "Score-a-goal." You forgot to say please, folks.

Isles kill a penalty, then Glen Metropolit (no 'an') gets two for hooking. Satan gets a shot blocked, Bruins clear, then clear again with 40 ticks left on the advantage. Thomas stops Fedotenko, Sutton's shot is blocked - PP ends and the booing begins.

Satan gets hauled down on a break by Andrew Alberts - no penalty shot called. You hate to say 'this is it,' with 11:18 left, but... I think it is. HUGE power play here.

Fedotenko rebound deflected over the net by Thomas, then Sillinger is stopped from the slot with 12 seconds left in the advantage. More booing. The power play continues to be utterly lifeless.

Of course, moments later Sillinger is called for slashing as the Bruins push into the Islanders zone. If two goals is a mountain, what's three? Everest? A black hole? The Mariana Trench?

Hilbert gets called for delay of game for knocking the puck into the crowd, and now the Isles are down two men. Doesn't there have to be a shred of intent there? He flailed at the puck and got lucky to connect - or unlucky, to be exact. Horrible.

Isles kill the disadvantages but time is short, less than five to play.

Frustration: Hunter is called for roughing, well behind the play with 3:34 left. Eight seconds later, Kobasew converts and it's 3-0. Goodnight, everybody! Drive home safely.

Hang on... Chris Campoli scores from the point through a screen with 1:51 remaining, a POWER PLAY goal that finds the top left corner. That makes it 3-1 and snaps the scoreless streak at 140 minutes and 12 seconds.

Rangers blanked by Carolina, by the way, 4-0. Hey, it's something.

Empty net, Hunter stopped and Comrie has it ON HIS STICK in front, net open, can't get a handle on it. Eighteen seconds left. And so it goes. Twelve games now without scoring more than two goals in any game, and the Isles are 5-6 with an overtime loss in that span.

Boston's win is its first at the Coliseum in 11 games, since December, 2001. Congrats.


What's wrong with the offense? A lot. It just comes down to being more hungry. We're OK, but OK doesn't cut it. We did have our chances but they're coming when the goaltender is seeing the puck.

Nothing seemed to work today but there's always tomorrow. We just have to keep working at it. Just have to find a way and stick together.

We had some jump [early] but didn't capitalize.

ON SUTTON'S MISCUE THAT LED TO BOSTON'S SECOND GOAL: Everything becomes more magnified. Every time you lose, those things happen.

ON THE UPCOMING ROAD TRIP: Maybe the road is a good thing for us to have some meals together and be together. We can't let frustration get the better of us. It's a long year and a lot of teams go through spurts like this.

ON TAMBELLINI: He added some speed to us. He gave us some grit along the boards. He did what we asked him to do.

(Nolan added that Gervais' scratch was partly being the odd man out and partly because he is banged up, but added that he will be back in the lineup.)

ON BERGENHEIM GETTING EXTRA TIME: His effort is always there. What he gives us is what we are looking for.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Game recap: Rangers 4, Islanders 2

Eleven games and counting where the Islanders have scored no more than twice. Remarkably, they are 5-5 with an overtime loss in that stretch, which says a lot about the defense and the play of Rick DiPietro. But you wonder how much longer the team can tread water when a third goal by the opposition equals a loss.

You kind of knew beating the Rangers would be tough one night after a big win over the Senators. Toss in the fact that the game was at the Garden, and that the Rangers were supremely motivated to win after dropping the first three meetings of the season. Sure enough, they jumped out on top on a goal by Jaromir Jagr. Miro Satan got the equalizer early in the second, but two more goals by the Rangers threatened to blow the game open. Mike Comrie's wrister late in the second got the Isles within one again -- but that also meant they had reached their goal quota for the game.

Again, the power play (can we really call it that any more) was a major culprit, going scoreless in four chances, including a 29-second, 5-on-3 advantage in the first.

We mentioned it in one of the early blog posts this season, but the Islanders just don't have that one scorer who scares you, or who can carry a team when they need it. So you figure if Garth Snow has a Christmas list, a sniper is at the top.

The ugliness came courtesy of Ryan Hollweg, who showed again how classless he is by threatening to rip open the fresh stitches in Radek Martinek's face. Martinek caught a skate blade the night before, but played with 15 stitches nonetheless. Of course, Hollweg saw the wound as a target, and displayed his intelligence by telling Martinek he would rip them open when they met in scrum along the boards.

When Simon slashed Hollweg in the face, it was a bad split-second decision by a player who has always been highly regarded by his teammates. Hollweg, however, thinks about his violence before inflicting it, and is as much of a lowlife as anyone in the league. If the NHL is serious about protecting its players (and some of Colin Campbell's "punishments" make you wonder), it will sit Hollweg for a few games.

Not that it would make much of a difference to Hollweg.