December 18, 2010

Isles Lose to Coyotes as Roloson Rumors Swirl

Sunday, 12/19/2010 11:00 PM - As we always do on Sundays, we recorded and posted our latest podcast here. We discussed a wide variety of topics, with the main focus of course being the Dwayne Roloson situation. We also talk about who we liked, who we didn't like and who we'd like to see more of.


11:27 PM - The Islanders fell to the Coyotes 4-3 after the shootout in which the Coyotes scored on all three attempts. Goalie Nathan Lawson made his NHL debut and looked OK for the most part and made 32 saves on 35 shots.

The one thing that stood out to me regarding Lawson was his rebound control. It isn't great, and you would hope that's something that he can work on. However, he isn't your normal rookie as he is 27 years old. That may be something he'll never improve on, but who knows.

The Islanders played a pretty solid game overall, the best performances coming from Jesse Joensuu and Andrew MacDonald. Joensuu got the Isles on the board with his goal off of a really quick snap shot after a beautiful cross-ice pass from John Tavares. Joensuu would later create the goal that Michael Grabner scored to give the Isles a 2-1 lead. His play seems to have been improving as of late, and I still can't completely understand why he isn't getting more minutes (he only played 12:31 tonight).

MacDonald blocked another three shots and was a very steady presence out there. He was often tabbed to shadow the Coyotes' best players and seemed up to the task more often than not. He never really fumbles the puck under pressure, and keeps things very calm from the back end when he's out there. He is proving day in and day out why for the better part of a year now he has been on the top pairing.

Travis Hamonic told us after the game that the team had "nothing to hang their head about." He's right about that - the effort was absolutely there. There were a lot of opportunities in this game for either team to really take the game and run with it, and neither did. The Islanders out-shot the Coyotes 44-35, and Jason LaBarbera made some really incredible saves.

Hamonic alluded to getting three out of their last four points as something they have to look at as a good thing and go from there. It's the small things in life, I suppose. But he does have a good point.

When asked about the power-play, which went only 1-for-8 tonight, Jack Capuano was very honest, saying "that's something we're going to have to address, and if it continues then we'll have to put a new unit of five on the ice."

He concluded his thought by saying he felt that was "the biggest issue tonight."

The power-play was certainly a cause for concern once again considering how many chances the Coyotes really gave them. The Islanders had two brief 5-on-3 chances that they killed by getting penalties of their own. Meanwhile, when they did have the man advantage the Isles movement was very slow and sluggish. I agree that at some point really soon, there needs to be a change on the power-play. The first two guys that should be on there when that change is made is Joensuu and Grabner. Enough is enough - they need minutes they can really run with, and the power-play is an area I think they can star in.

Meanwhile, for many the storyline of the game to follow was the start of Nate Lawson. Not so much because it was his NHL debut, but more so because he got the start over Dwayne Roloson.

When it was first reported that Lawson was getting the start, many people figured that something was wrong. Of course, that wasn't really the case. The Islanders announced that Rick DiPietro had some swelling in his knee that was very minor. If it was anything more, he wouldn't have practiced today. He also wouldn't have stuck around the team or answered questions for the media. Since Kyle Okposo and Mark Streit have been injured, there haven't been many opportunities to access them. DiPietro meanwhile was not sent home without talking to the media.

Generally, when you have "two number one goalies" as Garth Snow has reminded us every chance he could, then quite frankly you are starting the guy who isn't playing that night. That would have been Roloson, with Lawson backing him up.

Even stranger are the comments from Capuano in the post game press conference. He mentioned a variety of items of note:

- The decision to start Lawson was because they haven't won a lot of games here and something had to change. As far as I'm concerned, Roloson has been more than capable this season. More often than not, he gets no goal support. So I don't get that.

- They need to find ways to win games, so he doesn't know who would start the next game. "Tonight it was Nate, tomorrow it could be someone else."

- When he came to practice this morning, he explained to both DiPietro and Roloson that Lawson was coming and starting tonight. No mention of the injury as a factor.

What I took from all of that is that there is more here than meets the eye. Roloson was healthy. During warm-ups, I noticed he didn't take as many shots that a back-up for the game normally would.

I truly think we are seeing the end of Roli on Long Island. For those of you who remember Guerin-gate from a few years back, I think the Isles are attempting to handle this in a slightly different way, but it seems to be creating problems. Many prominent journalists are raising an eye brow wondering why the veteran who has done nothing but bust his hump for the team gets to ride the pine for a 27 year old rookie.

Quite simply, I think the Islanders are slowly excepting their fate and are staring to look at their other goalies as a pre-cursor to a Roloson move. DiPietro is supposed to get one of the two games in the upcoming weekend. Who gets the other is now up for debate. Heck, who starts Wednesday against the Lightning is up for debate too, apparently.

We'll keep an eye on this story throughout the night, but wouldn't expect anything huge to come out of it just yet. The NHL's holiday trade freeze comes into effect at midnight. So we still have just under an hour of fun speculation ahead of us!


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