February 13, 2011

Grab-Trick Gives Isles Win Over Hot Sabres

The game against the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday afternoon was anticipated by various people all over the hockey world for a multitude of reasons. For Islanders fans, the game presented a new challenge. The Isles had to find a way to come up big against another team that has been on fire lately after the statement they made in the last game.

While the path getting there was a bit of a roller coaster ride, the result is exactly what we all could have hoped for.

Michael Grabner not only scored what has become his normal two goals for this game, but added a third for his 2nd career hat trick as the Isles went on to beat the Sabres in a wild one, 7-6.

The other Isles goals came from John Tavares, Ty Wishart, Milan Jurcina and Blake Comeau.

Grabner really did it all once again. Between the penalty killing, the speed, the average of two breakaways a game for the past month and the stripping opponents of pucks to create chances the other way he has done it all. Howie Rose said that he has completely run out of superlatives to describe Grabner, now tied for the rookie lead in goals in the league with 24.

Mikko Koskinen didn't look too great in this one, with the rebounds once again being the biggest issue here. This is the one are of his game that needs a ton of work, and the style the Sabres employ brought out that weakness. Unfortunately, Al Montoya was no better as he was seemingly unable to hold on to any pucks that came his way, giving up some bad goals and some really good chances to the Sabres. If that's going to be the norm from him, then we may need to look elsewhere once again. I'm hoping that it was an aberration, with a combination of nerves of being in his first NHL game in a while and having to come in while fairly cold in the 2nd period.

The defense as a whole was pretty poor. The most noticeable one was Wishart. There were a couple of Buffalo goals that came due to him stepping up towards the wrong person and just being completely out of position, like for example on the 3rd Buffalo goal. He did score a goal at a key time, however his defensive game still has a few holes in it here and there. I can see why he is still considered to be in the prospect/project stage by some.

At any rate, the Islanders get another win to go along with what they have been putting together over the last week or so. It's also coming at a time when guys like Grabner, Tavares, Matt Moulson and Kyle Okposo are racking up points. This is a good thing to see.

The Isles show next rolls into Ottawa, where they'll face a team that's struggling big time. They are now without Mike Fisher, who was traded for draft picks to the Nashville Predators. It always seemed like Fisher had good games against the Isles, so perhaps that is an advantage there.

Final thoughts:

- I do have some things I want to say on Mario Lemieux's comments about the NHL's handling of Friday's events. I'll have something on that tomorrow as I am still working on organizing what to say here.

- Sean and I got together and recorded the show as we always do on Sunday. You can watch the broadcast of the show on our UStream page here, or download the podcast version for our podcast site here.

- Click here to see the Islanders feature on Chris.



No comments: