November 4, 2010

Isles in Ottawa to Try and Stop the Skid

The bleeding continues.

The Islanders dropped their 5th straight game, losing to the Hurricanes 7-2. The Isles have been outscored 13-3 in their last two games. You don't need any analysis on that, as it is self explanatory.

It is really unfortunate to see the turn that this one took considering how the Isles started out. They seemed to be getting the better chances in the first few minutes of the game, with one of the stronger players being Michael Grabner. When he was out, I spoke about the Islanders missing his speed and creativity. That much was apparent if you saw his play early on. It might seem very simple, but if you saw the beginning, you saw two good Islanders chances on Cam Ward, both created by Grabner's ability to use his speed to elude defenders and come around from behind the net and get the puck towards the slot area.

Aside from that, the rest of the game left a lot to be desired. Rick DiPietro's game was not good as he gave up way too many soft goals. The first goal of the game was a real killer as DiPietro wandered out behind the net, only to lose the puck and have it end up in the slot area for Joe Corvo to easily put it in. That seemed to give the team a whole "not again" attitude.

For those of you who listened to our latest podcast, Sean and I had a little back-and-forth disagreement about the psyche of a young team. I downplayed the idea that when you have a such a young team, the memories of recent performances, including the past couple of seasons, still rears it's ugly head at times. I have to admit that I may have been a little off because it certainly seems that it is playing a factor of some kind. Butch Goring even mentioned something along those lines during last night's telecast.

The Islanders take on a very hot Ottawa Senators team tonight that has won four of it's past five games. Brian Elliot gets the nod as he looks to continue his streak of hot play. The Islanders are countering with Dwayne Roloson, as Scott Gordon announced a couple of days ago. Even if he didn't, I think it would have been a safe bet given the performances in the last two games.

One would hope that the Islanders figure out how to right the ship, because while the injuries have killed them right now, especially on the blueline, there is no excuse for being completely manhandled for two games in a row. Something seems to be a bit off, and guys aren't going as hard as they were, especially on the forecheck. That has to change. If the Isles play the way that they are supposed to, and they can do it, then I think they match up well with the Senators.

Obviously, they have to watch out for the big guns of Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson, both of whom have recently returned from injuries. Sergei Gonchar started out really slow, but seems to be coming around as late to contribute to the Sens streak.

Sooner or later, the Islanders are going to need some production again out of John Tavares, Blake Comeau and Josh Bailey. I think out of all three, Bailey has been the most consistent when it comes to the forecheck and play away from the puck, but he has been far from perfect.

The team definitely seems to have a different feel to it in games where Roloson starts. If that happens again tonight, and the Islanders snap out of their funk, then one has to wonder how Gordon works the goaltending rotation for the future. But we'll worry about that bridge when, and if, we come to it.


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