November 7, 2011

Road woes Continue for Isles

The Islanders remained winless on the road this season as they dropped a 6-2 decision to the Boston Bruins on Monday night.

You can chalk this one up to a poor defense, which is actually a rare occurrence for this season so far. They were exposed on so many different Bruins rushes, both forwards and defensemen.

All off-season and even now, 12 games into the season, the Isles have been looking for a defenseman who is mobile but can clear the crease. Not having a player like this is fairly noticeable in a game against big team like the Bruins, in particular when you're watching Andrew MacDonald try and shove Milan Lucic out from in front of your goaltender. More often than not, that won't fly.

The Islanders appeared to be chasing their tails though for most of the night on defense, so it's really tough to point out one or two specific guys. Near the end of the game, Jack Capuano began to change his defensive pairings up, switching Steve Staios and Milan Jurcina. Jurcina started the game as usual with Mark Eaton, and both made huge mistakes resulting in two of the Bruins goals.

Not to put it all on the forwards and defensemen, Evgeni Nabokov didn't help out as much as we (and he) would have liked. He seemed to be off all night, which is one huge problem with the three goalie rotation. Guys are going to cool off when they're playing really well, and that's what happened with Nabokov (the injury he sustained was minor and healed well before Monday). If their plan was to showcase him in their effort to get a high draft pick, then it didn't go over so well. They are probably still better off trying to package him with Blake Comeau and get the defenseman they still could use.

In the case of Al Montoya, he came in and stood on his head after not playing since October 20th. Given that, what he did was remarkable save for a bad rebound that become a goal (this was one of the errors that the Jurcina-Eaton pairing made, though). Montoya should be starting for the foreseeable future. If this didn't prove he's the best they got right now, then I don't know what does.

The Islanders didn't throw many hits, and even Matt Martin was pretty quiet except for a fight a couple of minutes into the game. The fight definitely sparked the Isles for a bit, but didn't provide a jolt to their physical play. A smaller team like the Isles may think twice about getting involved in a grind-it-out match with a team with size like the Bruins, but that should be no excuse. Everyone can play physical in their own little way, even if they aren't knocking guys over left and right.

The Isles take their act out West now, where they'll face a team that's very much like theirs but off to a slightly better start in the Colorado Avalanche. The Avs have a young and very fast team, that will turn defensive miscues into scoring chances in the blink of an eye, especially Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog and Paul Stastny. The defensemen have to be alert, and the forwards really need to cut down on their turnovers.

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