December 16, 2011

Isles Lose as Injuries Mount

The Islanders dropped yet another game, this time to the Dallas Stars. The losses are once again piling up as injuries continue to mount, and the Islanders are in danger of going through another loosing streak.

The sparse crowd was not treated to a very strong Islanders effort, and certainly not anything like the 5-4 heart pumper these two played the last time they met, in Dallas.

Kevin Poulin, taking the place of the once again injured Evgeni Nabokov and filling in for the exhausted Al Montoya, played really well in his first action on NHL ice since sustaining the dislocated knee cap last February. With three goaltenders on the roster to start the year, the Islanders had sent Poulin down to Bridgeport where he started off slowly, but eventually regained the starters role. He was just as athletic now as he was then, and showed many glimpses of the strong goaltender we saw briefly last season.

With Steve Staios experiencing "concussion-like symptoms," the Islanders called up Calvin de Haan to take his place and make his NHL debut. In his first few shifts, it certainly showed that de Haan was nervous. But after getting the initial butterflies out of his system, de Haan showed us what he is capable of. He did a good job around his own net, using an active stick to steer loose pucks away from Poulin. He even dished out a couple of nice hits. The Islanders have gone very slowly with the 21 year old's development and it seems to be paying off. He may not be there just yet, but he did make a strong first impression. I'd still like to see him spend a little more time in Bridgeport.

Brian Rolston left the game early with a concussion, the 24th documented in the NHL this season. During the MSG+ post-game, they showed a reel of Rolston's hits, both given and taken and none of them seemed of the excessive variety that would garner a concussion. It's very possible, however, that it was a carry over from last game or just from a series of smaller hits. At any rate, we hope that Rolston can get better soon because no one likes to see any of these concussion problems, no matter the age and skill level.

Despite giving up the first goal of the game, the Islanders came back to tie and take a lead. They showed some spurts of strong play but more often than not appeared to be slacking a bit.

It wasn't until later in the third period when the Islanders were really pressing and the desperation showed. But in the end, it was too little and too late. Poulin would give up a rather weak goal after being perfectly screened to put the Stars ahead for good.

As Jack Capuano said after the game, the team had some lapses that cost them the game. It didn't last over the entire game, but they appeared to get a bit complacent during parts of the second and for a good chunk of the third period. When you're struggling through injuries, particularly to your better defensemen, you simply cannot afford to take any time off. It's not the way teams steal points in games that look unlikely.

The Islanders will now hit the road for a tough trip that runs through Minnesota and Winnipeg before returning to New York to take on the Rangers at MSG. They have their work cut out for them in what will likely be a very telling couple of weeks.


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