December 23, 2011

Isles Can't Sustain Momentum against Rangers

Any time the Islanders and Rangers get together, you sort of know what to expect. A good effort from both teams, with each alternating momentum and a close score.

Thursday night was already different right off the bat, however, as Henrik Lundqvist sat in favor of Martin Biron. It was the fist time in the past 16 contests against the Rangers that the Islanders would not face the star net minder.

Biron was tested early and often, and made some decent saves. He froze the puck a lot, perhaps wanting to minimize the amount of momentum the Islanders would get. The Islanders would not be able to beat him until the first minute of the second period, with P.A. Parenteau scoring on the powerplay.

Lazy plays is what really killed the Islanders in this one. The Rangers would regain the lead off of a face-off, when Michael Grabner didn't react much after the puck was dropped, allowing Marian Gaborik to get to the front of the net and put a backhand shot past a sprawled out Evgeni Nabokov. Nabokov did all he could there, and didn't get very much help from his team.

As a matter of fact, Nabokov didn't get much help from his team on any of the goals he gave up. It seems like the times when the Isles were floating out there is when they would give up a goal. A combination of Parenteau and Mark Streit created a turnover, which lead to Brandon Dubinsky's opening goal.

To make matters worse, Jack Capuano jumped the gun with getting the extra man, pulling Nabokov with a minute and a half left. Unfortunately, the Islanders never really had sustained control of the puck, and a turnover by Frans Nielsen lead to an easy goal for John Mitchell from center ice. Nabokov stood at the bench looking up to the rafters after that, and that sums it up pretty nicely.

The Islanders had the ability to walk away with this game, but let defensive lapses get in the way. When the Islanders looked disinterested, the Rangers were able to control the puck and use their bigger guys to maintain control of the puck, and just skate around the Islanders players.

The Islanders don't have that much time to let that one stew, as they return home to take on the Toronto Maple Leafs Friday night. The Leafs have slowed down a bit from where they were at the beginning of the year, but are still getting offense out of Joffrey Lupul and Phil Kessel. The Islanders' defensemen will have to key in on these guys and not let them get a lot of open space. Kessel has become an Islander killer in his career, so expect the Islanders to pay special attention to him.


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