October 30, 2010

Habs Sweep Home and Home, Isles Head to Philly

Lats night, one could essentially say the Islanders played twi different games.

For the better part of 15 minutes, the Montreal Canadiens controlled the play, and really took it to the Islanders. They could not get anything going. The Canadiens seemed to have figured out the gameplan and picked up right where they left off. Fortunately, the Islanders figured things out in the last few minutes of the period, and began to battle back.

The second period saw more of the same from the Islanders, as they closed the gap in shot total and battled hard to tie the game on a goal from Matt Martin. Frans Nielsen made a really nice play from behind the net to Martin, who was positioned to the right of Alex Auld for one of those infamous dirty goals. Those are going to be the kind of goals Martin will score throughout his career as he establishes himself as an immovable object in front of the net.

It seemed as though when the Islanders got their hitting going, their play improved and the Canadiens were reeling a bit. Martin layed two big hits on Hal Gill early in the contest and things seemed to improve from there. He even had a fight with Gill later, which is a bit of a mis-match when you compare the size. Gill definitiely has longer arms, so it was difficult for Martin to get his punches in with Gill holding him back, but I tip my hat to him for holding his own in the fight.

The Islanders continued to press in the 3rd period, but couldn't put one past Auld who made some really nice saves. A A breakdown with three Canadeins flying into the zone lead to Benoit Pouliot's goal to give the Habs a 2-1 lead. Poulit has a really nie shot, and has struggled a bit in the early going this season after finding his game after a mid-season trade from the Minnesota Wild last season.

Scott Gordon after the game said lack of backchecking is was caused that goal, and I would agree. It is clear that Montreal is a much faster team, and that paid off in that situation. You can see how much the team misses Rob Schremp and Michael Grabner.

Blake Comeau had a bit of a sloppy game, but still appears to be backchecking. He isn't as involved in the offence as he was prior to Josh Bailey's injury, but as long as he keepts pushing hard and at the very least forechecking he'll get his touch back.

The ice at the Coliseum was really bad last night from what I could see. We know that the puck always takes some odd hops here and there, but last night it was a lot more noticeable than past games. The Islanders are on the middle of this long string with most of the games on the road, and there were a couple of events at the Coliseum in the past couple of weeks. That certainly played a factor in the poor ice.

The attention now turns to the Flyers. Rick DiPietro gets the nod against a team that the Islanders have not had much good luck against in recent years. Milan Jurcina is out with what appears to be a hamstring injury, so Bruno Gervais gets back in the lineup but as a defenseman today. The Islanders are looking for their first win in Philly since April of 2007 (nine games).

The Flyers are a team that started off slow, but have picked up their play of late. They currently sit in 1st in the division by way of a tie breaker from the Penguins, and one point in front of the Islanders. Jeff Carter has been on a hot streak of late with rumors of him being close to re-signing with the Flyers. Chris Pronger has not been feeling all that great this year, and perhaps is one less problem to have to deal with when not at 100%. Danny Briere and Claude Giroux have been on fire, with each having six goals each so far this season.

This is another team that has some speed to it, but not as much as Montreal. I do think this is a team the Islanders can match up will with. As I said with the game last night, once the team started throwing the body it changed the feel. The Flyers are a team that doesn't hesistate to throw checks, so Martin and the rest of the Isles are going to have to be doing that from the get go.

If more news comes about any last minute changes, we'll have it for you here.



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