January 25, 2012

Leafs Get Help to Defeat Isles in OT

As if things weren't already tough heading into Tuesday night's game for the New York Islanders, their opponents would end up getting help - and a lot of it.

To say that the officiating was a disgrace is putting it kindly. For those of you who have frequented this space over the years, you know it's not something we usually harp on, even in other games where it's been bad. I know for myself, I'm a staunch believer that these things even out, and that missed penalties are one of the adversities that good teams overcome.

But there is no explanation for what happened on Tuesday night. I've since tried to think of the last time I saw a game - forget about the two in a row - but a single game that was officiated that poorly. I came up empty, and mind you I have watched a lot of hockey in the past decade or so. Kevin Schultz from Islanders Point Blank has some fantastic evidence organized in one post of some of what transpired.

It's a shame in the sense that it takes away from what could have been a good story. The Islanders and the coaching staff changed up the system and the game plan in a big way, looking much better than they did Monday night and even jumping out to a lead.

A late period goal on Al Montoya was not a good thing for the Isles, and I feared for the worst at that point. The Leafs had plenty of good chances, and Montoya made some decent saves but also scrambled around a lot, as you would have expected him to in playing his first game since December 20th. Goals in just about the last minutes of periods can be momentum shifters, and that is exactly what happened near the end of the 2nd.

Of course, the momentum shift was a result of several factors, but we won't beat that dead horse anymore. It's a given at this rate.

Montoya gave up a knuckle ball goal to Mikhail Grabovski with about 3:30 left and the game appeared all but over. The Isles and their fans, already frustrated from all the other stuff going on let their voices be heard. Meanwhile, it was Grabovski who tried to shoot the puck around the boards with 12 seconds left when it took a bad bounce, landing in the slot area for a wide open P.A. Parenteau to tie the game up.

The Islanders deserved to win the game as it was, and now had the chance to avenge both bad bounces and bad officiating, but it would not happen. Another missed call in overtime after Matt Moulson was tripped, coupled with terrible timing on a pinch by Mark Streit would lead to Clarke MacArthur's OT goal.

Travis Hamonic smashed his stick on the ground as he exited the ice. Kyle Okposo continuously glared behind him as he walked out with a scowl on his face. John Tavares, who had his own outburst to the refs as he skated off the ice during the second intermission after a late hit from Joffrey Lupul, was at a loss for words and utterly confused on how to explain the events during the post game presser. Josh Bailey, meanwhile, pulled no punches.

And then there is Jack Capuano. I have to give credit where credit is due. I called Capuano out after Monday's game for not changing up his game plan and adjusting during the game. However, he had his team ready to play the next day. But I'm very disappointed that he chose not to address the poor officiating. It seems 29 other coaches out there would have something to say if this were their team. Heck, John Tortorella even had something to say in a poorly officiated game in which his team WON (the Winter Classic). So what gives?

The players may have been as diplomatic as they could have been while still getting their point across, but for the coach not to back that up and just skip over it like nothing happened? Disappointing.

So here we are. Just two games ago, the Isles were poised to be sitting pretty. Now, we have a week off to think about what comes next. The Isles enter the break 10 points out of a playoff spot and prepare to start off with three important games against Carolina, Ottawa and Buffalo.



No comments: