October 13, 2007

Leafs Crush Isles 8-1, Isles Reshuffle Lineup

On Thursday the Islanders lost to the Toronto Maple Leafs 8-1. It was such a disappointment of a game from the Isles as they seemed to be just going through the motions. The defense as a whole was terrible in front of backup goalie Wade Dubielewicz.

Ruslan Fedotenko scored the only goal for the team as he deflected Bruno Gervais' shot from the point on the powerplay in the first period. The Isles went into the first intermission only down 2-1, and it seemed that they could still try and battle back. But that's when it started to go sour.

About 7 minutes into the 2nd, Thomas Kaberle scored for the Leafs and then the goals started to come. For a period and a half, the Isles were hanging in there and could have easily scored to change the momentum but failed.

One thing that killed the isles, aside from their terrible defense was penalty trouble, especially from Jeff Tambellini, who took 3 very lazy and unnecessary penalties. On the subject of special teams, the Isles power play wasn't anything exciting either. They tried to be too fancy and the men at the point, especially Marc-Andre Bergeron had a hard time controlling the puck, which lead to some shorthanded odd man rushes for Toronto, one of which they scored on.

With a tough loss like this all you can do is hang your head high and play better next time out. As I said, for a period and a half things were OK, but the Isles were unable to take control or change the momentum when they had the opportunities.

That next shot comes Saturday night against the Philadelphia Flyers. The Isles lineup will look a bit different. On Friday, the team sent down forward Jeff Tambellini, who failed to stick after getting his shot when Jon Sim went down with injury. Sean Bergenheim, who has looked good in the limited amount of ice time he has seen, now moves up to the second line to play with Miro Satan and Josef Vasicek. Chris Simon also returns for the game, and Shawn Bates is very close to returning. On defense, the Isles are scrapping the idea of going with 7 defensemen and going back to 6, which means one of Bergeron, Gervais, Bryan Berard and Chris Campoli will not be playing. Based on play, Bergeron might be the odd man out. But there has been no inclination from coach Ted Nolan as to who will be sitting.

The game is a bigger one than it might seem for so early in the year, but it is huge. You always want to win games against your division, and a win would out the isles at 4-2, 4 points better than anyone else. With the lack of games between now and the end of the month, it is important to stay up around the top of the division now so that you are not constantly playing catch up with the others. 3-3-0 is not terrible, but seeing as how bad the 2 losses have been so far, (the one against Washington should have been one, the one against Toronto might have been a loss either way), 4-2-0 would sort of make up for all of that. The return of Simon should rally the troops well, not to mention the return of Rick DiPietro to the nets. We'll see what happens.

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