The Islanders gave at the office tonight and their young players - 9 of 18 skaters age 24 or younger - played well. Most - kudos to Tim Jackman - played physically. The Rangers bounced in one more.
It was not an exceptional display of hockey by any stretch of the imagination, but for one night the Islanders could leave the rink with their heads held high about their battle level.
With 1:20 left on the clock until there were 23 seconds left, this was the Islanders' lineup with the goaltender pulled:
Comeau - Comrie - Okposo - Hunter
Campoli - Streit
In the final 23 seconds, Scott Gordon sent out the following:
Okposo - Bailey - Guerin - Hunter
Campoli - Streit
Gordon was very complimentary of Josh Bailey, saying that his improving faceoffs were a big reason he could play him at the end of the game.
Kyle Okposo had stretches where he was the best player on the ice for either team. Blake Comeau looks like he can stay a while.
The Final Sore: The man-games lost to injury for the Islanders and Rangers before tonight's game:
The Islanders are leading in something.
At 5:01 of the first period, Joey MacDonald left the game and was diagnosed with a groin strain. He will be re-evaluated tomorrow. In a tough spot, Yann Danis did well.
Word backstage was that goaltending coach Mike Dunham was prepared to enter the game as the Islanders' emergency goalie if needed.
Could the next goalie to drive down 95 be Wade Dubielewicz?
Putting It Together: MSG Network's Joe Micheletti to PB during the second intermission on Kyle Okposo: "He has the size and the ability, and what I like about him is, he really looks like he's learning how to use it. I know earlier in the season he wasn't skating, wasn't putting everything together. But he's been so much better the last few weeks and he looks outstanding tonight."
sleep 5Perception Really is Everything: My neighbor, the infamous Joe from RVC, comes up to me while our kids are at Wrestling practice and says, "Geez, Bill Guerin hasn't done much, huh"? (Like I want to be thinking of that crap while shaking out the cobwebs at 8:30 on a Saturday morning).
Fast-forward to tonight, and I'm sitting in the press box, checking out tonight's game notes. I look to see how Guerin's doing. Then I look at Rangers big tickets Scott Gomez and Chris Drury, along with Guerin-contract-comparable Markus Naslund, and view their stats:
Guerin: 13 goals, 18 assists, 31 points
Gomez: 8 goals, 21 assists, 29 points
Drury: 13 goals, 16 assists, 29 points
Naslund: 14 goals, 14 assists, 28 points
Guerin, on the worst team in the National Hockey League, has totals that would rank him tied with Drury for second in goals on the Rangers to Naslund and second in points to Nikolai Zherdev. Guerin's -9 is on par with Naslund's -11, Gomez's -10 and Drury's -5. The Rangers' lineup has earned twice as many victories as the Islanders.
Of course, stats aren't everything, but it seems Guerin's not doing so bad. Would seem wise for the Boston Bruins - starting to get hit with the injury bug - to see if they can bring the hometown boy back to Beantown for a Cup run.
sleep 5The Phone Call
Don Waddell: Hey Snowy. So here's what I'm thinking. We send you Kovalchuk, Colby Armstrong and our 2009 third round pick for your first rounder in '09, Kyle Okposo and Chris Campoli. What do you think?
Garth Snow: Hmm...How about we give you Brett Skinner for Junior Lessard?
Game Rating (out of 5): 2.5: The close score resulted in drama, but this game was not going to bring back memories of 1984, 1993 or 2007 for that matter. The reality is that the Islanders are in last and the Rangers are an okay team with salary cap problems that may prevent them from getting any better this year. The effort from both teams was never in question.
sleep 5Event Rating: 3.0. We're as into this Lighthouse thing as much as anybody, but the Islanders should occasonally adjust the pre-game strategy they've employed all season.
It's 6:58 pm, the crowd is juiced, the scoreboard host has just announced the starting lineups for the Islanders and Rangers. The lights go down, the crowd goes bananas and...wait for it...the scoreboard shows the "Meet Me at the Lighthouse" video. Talk about a buzzkill. It's like putting in the Reservoir Dogs blu-ray and getting Must Love Dogs.
There's plenty of time for that. Not five minutes before faceoff.
"The Chicken Dance" has its second of three airings this season. Seems like the Rangers always score after it's played.
sleep 5Courtesy of Kinger: The Islanders' power play is now 0-for-22 in their last 8 games against the Rangers.
C o K 2: The Islanders are 8-2-1 in their last 11 games against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden. But at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum against the Rangers, the Islanders have only 7 wins out of the last 29 games against their archrivals.
Scouts in Attendance: Minnesota, Phoenix
sleep 5Back to Tavheduch
The latest in the race for consensus No. 1-A pick John Tavares and No. 1-B Victor Hedman (at left, via Expressen). Second place gets you either Hedman or cut-above consolation prize Matt Duchene.
1. Islanders 12-27-4 28 pts (43 games)
2. Atlanta 14-24-5 33 pts (43 games)
3. Ottawa 14-21-6 34 pts (41 games)
4. St. Louis 16-22-3 35 pts (41 games)
5. Tampa Bay 13-19-10 36 pts (39 games)
TW Notes: Thank heavens for Mike Smith and the Lightning getting all those points for losing in overtime and shootouts. But if Tampa Bay trades Vinny to Montreal for Chris Higgins and futures, watch out...The Islanders still have two games in hand in Ottawa. Incredible to think that at this time a year ago everyone had the Senators going to the Stanley Cup Final.
To answer a frequent question in Comments, this is how I predict the Islanders prefer their Tavheduch:
Good night! Comments.