March 28, 2012

Isles Win on Secondary Scoring, Strong Goaltending

All season long one of the Islanders' biggest issues had been getting offensive support from players not named John Tavares, Matt Moulson or P.A. Parenteau. Over the last couple of weeks that's slowly gotten better. On Tuesday night in Pittsburgh, it was the best we had seen it in quite some time.

None of those three registered even a point for the Islanders who were finally able to end a long losing streak in Pittsburgh, picking up a win for the first time since December 2007 when the Penguins played their home games at Mellon Arena.

Frans Nielsen, Michael Grabner, Kyle Okposo and David Ullstrom all scored for the Islanders. Nielsen's two goals gave him 16 for the season. Grabner and Okposo have struggled a bit finding the back of the net, but now are both within striking distance of getting to 20.

All of this is silver lining. However it is nice to see these guys finally snap season long funks and hopefully take something positive into the offseason, especially Grabner who has seemingly been in a confidence struggle all year. For what it's worth, the Islanders were able to avoid elimination from playoff contention for yet another day. After the Toronto Maple Leafs were officially eliminated, the Islanders are now on deck. But they get to fight another day.

The Islanders goaltending was as strong as it needed to be. Despite getting the 2-0 lead after the first period, Pittsburgh threw a lot of shots (17) at Evgeni Nabokov. A few minutes into the second and Pittsburgh began to get their chances past the netminder, but after a few nice saves Nabokov once again allowed his team to regain momentum and eventually capitalize on it.

Unfortunately, Nabokov left the game after taking an awkward tumble to the ice and suffered an apparent leg injury. The Islanders have announced that he's day-to-day with a 'lower body' injury. Al Montoya took over in the third for the club, and stopped 21 of 22 shots he saw to finish the game off and bring the Islanders within one game of NHL .500.

In total, Isles' netminders saw 54 shots. The team converted on five of 25 shots, all scored on Marc-Andre Fleury who has had the Isles' number in his career.

Despite the lack of the dreaded elimination 'X' next to their name, the Islanders are already playing the part of spoilers. After ruining the Panthers' hopes of two points in their quest for a Southeast Division Title, the Islanders seriously dented Pittsburgh's hopes of being the best in the East. That spot currently belongs to the New York Rangers, who defeated the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday to take a three point lead over the Penguins in the conference.

This is where it's fun to be the spoiler. Well, it's never fun but you get where I am going with this.

Anytime you can win a game against a tough opponent, who has won 10 straight home games, who you have not beaten on the road in four and a half years and ruin their playoff positioning, you can hang your head high and take the positives from it and hopefully expand on them when the games matter a bit more to both teams next season.


1 comment:

anthony said...

Silver linings suck. We say this movie last season. Finishing strong only guarantees raised ticket prices, a lower draft pick and being sold that gm snow and coach caps are "improving" and this next year will be our year BS. I really want this team to turn it around and contend next season. I really want to take my kids back to see the isles which I brainwashed them to be fans. Unless they change their spending philosophy (overspend to get players here) especially on defensive defensemen and learn to develope youth better (they have virtually ruined Il Nino) , I don't see any other result than another .500 season regardless of the streaks. Sure the bright spot here is josh Bailey is finnaly playing a complete game and I finnaly have faith he may turn into that 20-20 40pt two way center who doesn't disappear for half a season. Mike grabner is always gonna be a streaky player so I'm not as disappointed in him as others are and trans neilson has find a great job imo. Top line has been brilliant and I don't see why they won't repeat (although I doubt PA will re-sign) Kyle okposo worries me alot? A-MAC AND T-Ham are excellent young d-men and m streit serves his purpose as a scoring d-man. G should be fine as long as they don't try to force BROKEN DIPETRO in the lineup again. But that's it. They need 10 more players. ESPECIALLY tough DEFENSIVE DEFENSEMEN . This team is way too soft. If they must overpay for big defensemen then do it. And they need NHL fowards to round out the fowards. Not washed up over the hill guys like REASONER, ROLSTON, PANDALFO, ETC. over pay for nhl talent and commit to young guys who contribute like ulstrom and Martin. Is it true Nabby signed for next season? This is a good thing but they must commit to him even if he struggles A bit in Oct. Nu more DP bull... Please and if Montoya is the backup, than leave him there. Enough w the bridgeport shuttle. If one of the young and thus far mediocre GOALIES snow drafted is their pick to start or backup, then commit to it. This team has ruined as much young talent as they have been given credit for drafting.