November 6, 2011

Winless Streak Ends at Six

As the losses mounted, Islanders fans began to enter into panic mode, hoping that Jack Capuano would shuffle around some of the lines. He didn't do it when many had hoped, but he finally caved Saturday night.

Even though they still looked out of sync at times, and the passing still wasn't great, the lines clicked and gave the Isles a come from behind 5-3 win over the Washington Capitals.

Until he hit an empty netter to give the Isles the two goal lead, John Tavares didn't factor in the scoring at all and that was actually a good thing.

The new look 2nd line featuring Frans Nielsen, P.A. Parenteau and Brian Rolston was the best. We spoke about the make-up of that line on the show on Saturday morning, bringing up the idea that the Isles likely planned to use the speed of Nielsen, the puck handling of Parenteau and the slap shot of Rolston to find something that worked. Nielsen fed Rolston for a slapper that tied the game at 2-2.

Another unsung hero for this one was Matt Martin, who despite not getting a promotion to a different line still factored into the offense and in a big way. On the show I talked about giving him an opportunity on the second line to get him more involved in playing in front of the net, but he seemed really comfortable doing that on the fourth line. He's got a big body that at times will be immovable, and if the defensemen can get the shot through and have goalies give up rebounds, he'll make a nice living for himself.

Rick DiPietro didn't look as great as he did in the previous two games, but made some nice saves on some tough shots. The third Washington goal was definitely the weakest, but that came on the powerplay after an even weaker interference call by the referee on Steve Staios.

The fact that the Islanders were down 2-0 to one of the best teams in the league made many, myself included, think this was destined for yet another loss. Sean and I even had this one pegged as a loss well before it started. But even though there were still some problems being a cohesive unit, the Isles worked through that and continued to crash the net and good things resulted from that.

The Islanders need to continue to do that because things aren't going to get any easier. They now hit the road for three games, starting in Boston on Monday night. The Bruins are on a two game winning streak now after defeating the Maple Leafs 7-0 on Saturday night. Tyler Seguin is off to an outstanding start to the season, and had a hat trick against the Leafs. Tim Thomas is looking like his usual self. With players like Milan Lucic now finally starting to get going offensively, the Isles are going to have to watch their rebounds. I'm expecting DiPietro to start for this one, which may not bode well in the rebounding department.

If the Isles can take the momentum from their win over Washington into Boston, they may be able to quickly change their course of direction before heading out West. As a matter of fact, they pretty much need to - this team cannot finish well under .500 on the road and expect to be in the playoff conversation.

If you missed the live show on Saturday, be sure to download our podcast.


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