October 30, 2010

Massacre and Fight Night on Broad Street

On the eve of Halloween, I feel that the use of the word "massacre" is fitting for the game between the Islanders and Flyers on Saturday night. In a sense, anything that could have gone wrong, did go wrong for the Islanders.

The game was a sloppy one all the way around. The Islanders gave the Flyers way too many chances on the power-play. This is a very deadly team with more weapons than they know what to do with, and you could see it.

The Flyers had no goals from defensemen entering the game, but got three, with Chris Pronger getting two while Kimmo Timonen got one of his own.

Rick DiPietro was less than stellar tonight. He seemed very out of place and was off on some of his anticipation. The 2nd Flyers goal was evidence of this, with DiPietro expecting Mike Mottau to block Jeff Carter's shot, leaving his 5-hole wide open for the puck to sneak through. He fell a couple of times, came out of the net way too much and even flubbed a clearing attempt that Blair Betts almost buried into an empty net.

After the score got to 6-1, various fights broke out. The last few minutes of the game took forever, thanks in part to the Islanders 73 penalty minutes and the Flyers 47. The refs did a rather poor job of controlling the game. They threw Zenon Konopka out of the game after his second fight of the game with Dan Carcillo in order to try and keep the peace, but obviously it did not help. Every subsequent move they made after that seemed to make matters worse, actually.

Trent Hunter got ejected for an alleged hit to the head on Andrej Meszaros, when it in fact was not. Expect the NHL to review that and rescind the game misconduct. Trevor Gillies acted out, but I can say that I have never seen a triple minor penalty handed out, nor did I even know that they existed. Gillies definitely should have gotten something for his little spat with Briere, but a triple minor is just odd. Frans Nielsen received cheap shot hits by both Briere and Carcillo, and while they both got something for that, Nielsen got the worst of it by getting a 10 minute misconduct. Nielsen appeared to say something prior to the face-off, which he probably shouldn't have done, but for him to get 10 minutes while the others didn't get thrown out but were handed majors, whatever. It was in garbage time, but the league is primarily responsible for the ending in this one as far as I'm concerned.

I like the intensity on DiPietro, but honestly, we don't need him to try and fight people in a 6-1 game. It's great to show that leadership, but not after you have had at least two knee and two hip surgeries in the past two years. It looked more like Pronger was trying to keep DiPietro out of his own way rather than trying to fight with him. You can see them having a conversation, and After DiPietro says something to Pronger, Pronger responds with a "well, OK" type of response and lets go of him so he can go after other players. I give some props to Pronger for that.

All in all, this was an ugly game on many levels. The Islanders seemed to be running into each other a lot on plays, and it's been happening a lot during the four game losing streak. The penalty kill setup is off as well, sometimes with two forwards in the same area of the ice. If the Islanders are trying to work with a diamond penalty kill formation, it hasn't looked too solid the past couple of games. I'm not a big fan of it.

One thing worth pointing out on the Flyers side was the play of Sergei Bobrovsky. This is an impressive young net minder. In the Flyers games I have been able to watch in the early going of the season, I find myself sitting in awe at some of the saves he has been making, and he continued that tonight. The Islanders did have a couple of good chances and he just stood tall. His movements are really quick for someone that big. He has learned well in the KHL, and if he keeps it up, then we may not hear too much about these Flyers goal tending issues much longer. Great job by him tonight.

Fortunately, the team has off until Wednesday. This is a tough loss to sit on for that long, but if you are looking for something to hang your hat on, you can be proud of the way you tried to defend yourself in a game that had no business getting this much out of hand. Work on the systems, get everyone healthy and go back at it.

Hopefully, Michael Grabner can return to the line-up. We already know there is a good chance Rob Schremp comes back seeing as his conditioning stint is now over after a really nice performance against the Manchester Monarchs. We'll see what the lineup looks like after the next few days.

PODCAST COMING: Sean and I will be recording a podcast Sunday afternoon, and we'll definitely have a lot of things to discuss for this one. I can tell you that we both have a lot on our minds after this week, so we'll share all of that with you guys.



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