March 6, 2011

Brodeur Solid, Halts Isles Streak

For anyone paying attention to what has been going on around the NHL lately, they would have told you that Sunday afternoon's match-up between the Islanders and Devils was actually a game many were looking forward to. While both are fighting for their playoff lives and dreaming of miracle runs, they have actually been two of the hottest teams in the league the past few weeks.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the Isles looking for their 3rd straight win. Martin Brodeur got in the way.

"We know he's a good goalie," Frans Nielsen told me. "You can't think about it too much. You just have to keep shooting and get pucks at him and maybe they'll go in."

Nielsen had several good opportunities on Brodeur, each of which were denied. Nielsen's best chance came not one minute after he took a hard hit into the boards and was slow to get up. Nielsen, who favored his head as he came to his feet, told me after the game he felt fine and was showing no effects of anything wrong.

P.A. Parenteau also had some good chances on Broduer but was stopped as well.

"It's frustrating. Both goalies were awesome tonight, but with Marty he made some saves that made you say 'that's why he's a Hall of Famer' and he's something else to watch. I grew up watching him and he does things that no one else can do."

Parenteau, who was also stopped by Brodeur in the shootout, made some nice plays. His line was the best one for the Isles and they generated some really good chances. Offensively, the Isles wished they could have gotten more going and Parenteau accredited that to the Devils style of play.

"It's Jersey and they play a trap. It's just what they do, what they have been doing for years. You just have to approach it a little differently, and you can't take as many chances. You have to play the same game as them and be patient cause their looking for you to make mistakes."

"For a young group of guys, I thought we played really well and didn't give them much."

I would have to agree there. While the Devils out-shot the Isles by a fairly large margin, many of the shots were handled with ease by Al Montoya. It was the third period where a lot of the better chances came in.

Josh Bailey and Blake Comeau scored the goals for the Isles.

Bailey has been playing well the last couple of weeks, even when not finding his way onto the score sheet. It's no coincidence that once Rob Schremp left for Atlanta that Bailey's play picked up. He no longer has to be moved to different positions, and no longer has that threat of feeling like someone is over his shoulder. When it came to Bailey's struggles, we've talked a countless number of times both in this space and on the radio show about how one of the issues was constantly having his position swapped and playing with different line mates. One thing that you need to get is some consistency with the surroundings, and now that Bailey is getting that, his play has been getting better.

Comeau had been playing well too, and only continued that on Sunday afternoon. As fellow blogger Tony Stabile mentioned to me, "Comeau is playing like a man possessed today."

This was the effort we were hoping to get out of Blake more often than not. The goal was his 18th of the year. Two more gives the Isles four 20 goal scorers, which is certainly something to hang your hat on. Comeau's goal may have been gift wrapped for him, but there were a couple of pucks left out in the slot area by the Devils that the Isles just couldn't get to, but Comeau was great on the fore check here and once the defensemen over skated the puck, he was right there to pick up the puck and fire a wrist shot past Brodeur.

After seeing the game open up as much as it did in the third, it was a shame that this one had to be decided in the skills competition. The shootout ran a bit longer than others we have seen this season, as both Brodeur and Montoya made some nice stops. This was our first look at Montoya in the shootout, and I'd have to say he fared pretty well. Ilya Kovalchuk and Brian Rolston scored for the Devils while Nielsen had the lone goal for the Isles. Ironically, it was both Kovalchuk and Rolston who provided the regulation goals for the Devils. But Montoya did make some nice stops on the likes of Mattias Tedenby and Patrick Elias.

In the end, the Devils got their offense from two of the only guys who seem to be providing any these days, and the same two who have really carried the team over the last couple of weeks. The Isles were killed in the face-off circle thanks to the work of Travis Zajac and trade deadline acquisition Dave Steckel. This played a large part in Brodeur only being tested with 13 shots through 45 minutes of play.

The Isles stay home for the next few days, with their next match on Tuesday against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs still have hopes for making the playoffs, and are really close. They are no doubt upset with the outcome of this one, and now have their work cut out for them. With a chance to make a statement on Saturday, the Leafs were killed by the suddenly hot Chicago Blackhawks. They will be looking to come out in their next few games with guns-a-blazing.

NEW NYI FYI POSTED: For those who missed it live, we recorded our weekly Sunday show. We discussed a variety of topics, the main one being the lack of activity at the deadline, and what has to happen in the offseason for this team to become successful. We also talked a bit about the Trevor Gillies situation, bringing up some of the fans thoughts and providing our own thoughts on them, for what it's worth (not much, probably). We hope you guys enjoy it!

You can dowload the podcast here, or find the recording of the show on UStream.


No comments: