November 14, 2011

Isles Fall to Canucks; El Nino Returns

The Islanders dropped their rare Sunday night game 4-1 to the Canucks as Evgeni Nabokov was tested early and often.

It seems that no Isles goalie can be tested early enough though as Nabokov gave up a goal 1:57 seconds into the game, on a shot by Aaron Rome. It was a bit of a defensive breakdown in front of Nabokov, and would be a sign of things to come for the Islanders.

For much of the remainder of the game, we saw a great deal of uninspired play. The Islanders seemingly let Vancouver skate with free reign on offense, unable to stop them at times. At many points, it truly seemed like men against boys.

Roberto Luongo has been very up and down this season, and unfortunately for the Islanders they ran into him at his best. He didn't get tested very much, but on a few occasions he was tested with great shots that he was able to stand up tall against. It was important for him because Vancouver has made it clear in recent history that they have no problem starting the very capable Cory Schneider.

The Isles uninspired play is something that Jack Capuano was visibly upset about during the post game interview. He took it a step further during the interviews with the rest of the media after. This included an instance where he hoped the Isles would call up "three new guys" from Bridgeport rather than just Nino Niederreiter.

When Niederreiter returns to the line-up on Tuesday, many expect Blake Comeau to sit. I'm hoping that Kyle Okposo is the one who sits. It's gotten to a point with Okposo now where he needs to sit in the press box for a game and watch from above. His play has been all over the place, and he's not even doing the things he used to be good at. He's gotten too fancy with the puck and really just needs a game or two to sit out and think about simplifying his game big time.

Comeau at the very least has been throwing some hits. It's obviously not what we want his primary job to be, but at least he's contributing in that department which isn't something that could be said for Okposo right now.

Niederreiter adds some size to the group of forwards, but he is by no means the answer. It seems a lot of people are pinning a lot of their hopes on him to get this team out of it's funk. Quite honestly, this likely won't happen. He'll contribute in his own ways, but I really don't have him pegged to provide much offensively if he remains up with the team for the entire year. But I'll hope I'm wrong there and we'll see what he can bring. If he can at least cut to the net more often than not and use his big body that way, then we're already ahead of where we were last game.

The Islanders now get to come home and take on the Rangers, who have won six games in a row and are firing on all cylinders. It's going to be a tall task for an Islanders team that has pretty much been sleepwalking through their last four periods now. The Rangers are pouncing on the slightest of mistakes right now, and given the way each of these teams play the other, it will be no different here.

I'm very curious to see who starts for this one. But if the players are going to give more of the same, then it may not matter very much. As Capuano said, it's not about talking a big game. It's about having that will to want to do your best when you know the odds are more often than not stacked against you.


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