December 10, 2010

Bruins 5, Isles 2; Snow Speaks

The Islanders fell to the Bruins by a score of 5-2 in a game that was rather odd.

The Islanders had some good chances in the first, but not before the Bruins were controlling much of the play. Their first goal was a rather easy one, right off of the face-off. While I understand where James Wisniewski was coming from in complaining to the ref, it is his responsibility to tie up the much bigger Milan Lucic there. A big body like that can't be allowed to muscle his way towards the net from the face-off.

Frans Nielsen had a good game, and has quietly been putting points on the board despite the Isles struggles. I like the fact that the coaching staff has told him to be more offensive-minded. Hopefully, he doesn't let the defensive side of his game stray too far.

I liked Jesse Joensuu on the first line, and hope to see some more of him there. What I didn't like was how he got no power-play time. Michael Grabner didn't get any either, but Blake Comeau still got almost two minutes of time there. A lot of people, myself included wondered if Comeau was next after Capuano pretty much publicly declared that Josh Bailey was a passenger. So far, Bailey has been the only one "penalized" and people who are really struggling and not putting in a complete effort, like Comeau, are still getting rewarded with ice-time. But I suppose this is why I don't get paid to make these decisions.

Rick DiPietro played well aside from that one huge blunder where he successfully cleared the puck right into the mid-section of Brad Marchand. Marchand was able to pick up the puck and easily put it into the empty net.

Speaking of empty nets, while the Isles do give up their fair share of them it is usually hard to put one in, let alone two. That is exactly what happened last night for the Bruins (OK, technically three, but you get the point). When Lucic shot the puck from his own blue line right into the net, it pretty much summed up the game nicely for an Islanders squad that once again started off slow.

The Bruins had a 5-on-3 power-play in the 2nd, and Radek Martinek blocked a Zdeno Chara shot with his left wrist. We all know how hard he can shoot, but try standing five feet in front of him. Martinek, surprisingly, only missed the rest of the period and came back for the next. Given his injury history and how fast you could see that swell up on the telecast, it's a great thing that it appears he won't miss any time. That's the last thing they needed.

Andrew MacDonald had yet another solid game, blocking another four shots. He's not the sexiest player out there, but when he is on the ice the defensive play is so much better than it was in previous weeks. I feel it is necessary to constantly point things like this out.

The Isles did get a lot of shots in on Tuukka Rask, and some of them were tough. He made some nice saves, but not nearly as many tough ones as the should have. Players seem to still be getting a bit fancy out there.

Rask was helped out by John Tavares missing a wide open net in his wheel-house too. Tavares put the puck right off of the side of the net. The play immediately went the other way, where DiPietro made his gaffe. Tavares is still putting up a respectable amount of points, but there have been a few times where a play like this has happened to him. It happened against New Jersey and Johan Hedberg, and Sean made the comment on the podcast that week that those are the chances he needs to bury. This was another one of those.

The power-play, once again, had a weak showing going 0-for-3. That's 41 straight chances with no PPG for those of you counting at home. That 12 game stretch ties the franchise record for the longest streak with no PPG, which was set in the expansion season of 1972-73.

The Isles take on the Atlanta Thrashers in the next game on Saturday night, where more than 1,000 faithful fans are making the trip from...Quebec.

Yes, you read that right. As part of a movement to petition the NHL, many fans of the former Quebec Nordiques have been trying to make some noise to prove that their is still a very loyal fan base and that Gary Bettman was wrong to move them in the first place. Sean also wrote an opinion piece on this back when they had their "Blue March" in October.

GARTH SNOW SPEAKS: General Manager Garth Snow took the time to make an appearance on Islanders TV and answered the fans questions. Much to the surprise of many, a lot of the hard hitters were asked. Snow touched on some and side stepped others, but I appreciate the fact that he came out to give his thoughts and that Chris King asked the questions that many fans wanted to know about.

A couple that stood out for me:

-Kyle Okposo's return is mid to late January. Many of us expected this, but it's the first confirmation from the team. Previously, all we had to go by was Katie Strang's source who said December or January. Mark Streit appears to be returning more towards April.

-In regards to the question of when Snow would admit his hands are tied by the owner, Snow looked into the camera and said he had "no financial constraints." While I agree that it is very hard to get some player personnel business done in the salary cap era of the NHL, I don't completely believe that he has the free reign he has now twice told us he has this season. Anyone who has had their finger on the pulse of this team the last three years saw that. It will be interesting to see who exactly would be available for trade as Snow said he will not trade any of the younger players.

Guys like Trent Hunter or Bruno Gervais have little to no value. Guys like John Tavares, Josh Bailey and Kyle Okposo will not and should not be dealt. I would try and see what you could get for someone like Comeau, but I think that Snow considers him to be a "crucial" part to the rebuild. Ditto for waiver wire acquisitions Grabner and Rob Schremp. Some of these guys will be a part of the core, while others won't. If Snow is serious about making this team a contender, part of that will be determining which of these guys can be expendable before their value goes low, while some other teams might value them a little more in a different situation perhaps better suited for them.

-The Lighthouse project is something that has no bearing on his job. This I would agree 100% with. It is not his business to worry about this, but only Charles Wang's.

I'm sure that the interview will make it's way onto ITV, so be sure to check it out. It's only 15 minutes or so, and they will be doing another one like it. Good stuff.


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