October 26, 2011

Scoring Woes Continue as Isles Blanked

When you look at the way the Pittsburgh Penguins have been playing, particularly without their two biggest stars in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, you knew that this was going to be a really tough game.

Marc-Andre Fleury, often an after thought when naming the Penguins stars was brilliant, made some nice saves, but also saw some not-so-great shots from the Isles. Malkin looked like he never missed a beat.

Believe it or not, there is something to say for the Islanders having a better effort. When you look at it in a vaccuum this was a game against a tough opponent playing well all around at this time and they shut the door on the Isles all night.

Staios didn't have his best stuff Tuesday. Photo by C. Hessel
But when you look at it in the current situation, it's a three game losing streak. Had the Isles given an effort like this against Florida or Tampa last week, we're singing a different tune after this game. And you can take that to the bank.

Aside from a couple of defensive breakdowns, the Islanders looked much better than in their previous games. The defensive pair of Mark Streit and Steve Staios had their worst showing thus far, in particular Staios in my eyes.

As far as the forwards go, I felt that Kyle Okposo, Josh Bailey and Blake Comeau looked a little better, not that it was hard to do that. Bailey and Comeau weren't as noticeable until the second half of the game though. Each had their chances, but had moments where they held on to the puck a tad longer than anyone should. This is what goes on when you're in a scoring slump.

Evgeni Nabokov said it best in the post game. "We just have to relax." That's absolutely what they need to do and the goals will come. There are a number of moments where a forward picks up a loose puck around the net or in the slot area and for a split second freezes, trying to decide what to do. Sometimes, its best just to not overthink it and just get the puck towards the net. Many forwards are guilty of this, but it's definitely been more noticeable with Comeau, Bailey and Okposo. The same can be said for the defenseman and getting the puck in from the blueline.

Speaking of Nabokov, you can't say enough about his performance. He made some key stops, and when the Penguins were pressing in the third period, he stood tall. Jack Capuano should continue to roll with him. My gut tells me that we may get a Rick DiPietro sighting in Pittsburgh on Thursday though.

Capuano said after the game he has no plans to shake up the lines. He was happier with the effort than the last couple of games, and wants to see them replicate that as is for now. I don't necessarily agree with him and would have liked some changes, but I'll defer to him. This team is a better one than we've seen, and if he feels that letting them stick together for now will help to alleviate the problems rather than having to adjust to new lines too, then I hope it works.

If not, then the next step could be a shake-up of sorts.

The Bridgeport Sound Tigers coaching staff was in attendance. After the game, head coach Brent Thompson and assistant Eric Boguniecki were led by Eric Cairns into the coaches office. There were also a number of scouts in attendance, and some stayed until well after the game to fill out player evaluations on their laptops. One of these scouts was former Sound Tigers head coach Dave Baseggio, now a scout with the Anaheim Ducks.

Clearly, the status quo won't remain for very long. Should the Islanders not be able to cure their scoring woes soon, then they will begin to explore other options be it in-house or external.

If you missed the radio show this past weekend, be sure to get it through the NYI FYI podcast site.



JP in NJ said...

Mottau and Staios have been disappointing. Mattau's bad penalties in game 1 have set the tone for what I see as a general lack of energy on his part.

Lots of negatives that there's no need to dwell on. Bottom line, I think we're due to bounce back Thursday, get back to .500, and start this season over.

JP in NJ
aka @fogbuster

LouieNY said...

This team lacks heart....I know its early, but we been thru this before...I REFUSE to allow myself to get sucked into false hopes. The reality is Garth did not do much to improve this team. We are young and dumb and have to grow. We will continue to stink until we finally start to add some GOOD veteran talent AKA Streit's to this young core.