January 21, 2011

Lack of Power Play Kills Isles; Nabokov Rumors

The Islanders lost to the Washington Capitals 2-1 in what would end up becoming a very frustrating game.

The effort was there and so were the chances. The Islanders had six opportunities on the man advantage and couldn't beat rookie goalie Braden Holtby once on any of them.

Their only goal came from Michael Grabner after he used that speed to once again pick up a lose puck and create a breakaway for himself. Howie Rose was trying to think of the last Islander who had speed like he does. I can't think of anyone. He's by far the fastest I've seen (in my time of watching, anyway) and he has 12 goals already. I'm glad for him and for us that he's going to be our All-Star Weekend representative. It's a good story.

Rick DiPietro was fine in net, stopping 22 of 24 shots. His reactions seemed quick. Both goals he gave up were from some much bigger Capitals using their bodies to get to the net and create chances or tip-in shots. The Isles defense is missing Milan Jurcina right now, and it showed in a couple of plays last night.

Kyle Okposo making his debut looked much better than I expected him to. As I said a couple of days ago, it would be unfair to have any expectations for him at all this year. But aside from your usual rust, he had some nice chances getting to the slot and missed the net frequently. It was really nice though to have some slot presence there. Clearly, it hasn't happened much this season and you can see why this team is where they are now with Okposo missing 45 games. What a shame.

The Islanders are on their way up to Buffalo to play the Sabres in a Friday night match-up. It is the first of a home and home as the Isles will come back for a Sunday afternoon tilt against them.

One thing we know for sure right now is that DiPietro will not be making the trip. He was still feeling the effects of the flu after Thursday night's game and was hooked up to IV's immediately after changing in the locker room without speaking to reporters. So expect one of Kevin Poulin or Nathan Lawson to get the start.

The Detroit Red Wings have signed goalie Evgeni Nabokov to a deal for the remainder of the season. The deal for the long time San Jose Shark is only worth $570K ($250K prorated). The interesting part of this story is waiting for Nabokov to clear waivers. Since he played in a European league this season, he has to clear. The Wings are trying to find a loophole in the CBA to avoid losing him. But it appears that many teams would be very interested in claiming him.

Katie Strang reported the Islanders have had some internal discussions on if they should claim him or not. Many fans having seen Lawson play first hand now this season have been clamoring for an NHL goalie to come in either by trade or waiver claim and Nabokov clearly fits that bill.

But would the Isles actually go through with it after speaking so highly of Lawson and Poulin? I'm not so sure. Claiming Nabokov seems to be a sign of admitting their mistake in dealing Dwayne Roloson as soon as they did and go against what they have been saying in the 20 days since. On the other hand, it proves that they are truly trying to do what it takes to be competitive, and it would fit their description of making a move that fits into both their short and long-term plans. They can easily play DP in half of the remaining games and split the time with Nabokov while giving Poulin the necessary time to develop in the AHL.

Given his price, I think there is a slight chance the Isles would put in a claim for him but in the end I don't think it will happen. If the Islanders won more than just two of the five games on this recent home stand then I could see it being more of a possibility but right now I think it's doubtful. We'll see soon enough.



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