February 21, 2012

After Rough Loss to Sens, Isles Try to Regroup in Buffalo

"There was zero intensity in our game. We can't start a game like that, down two goals right away. We didn't find a way to respond and get back into the game."

Those comments from captain Mark Streit really say all that needs to be said. The Islanders obviously didn't play like they wanted to. They don't need to be reminded of that.

In all my years of watching the team, and the last few years of watching Streit, I've been trying to think of the last time I've seen him like this. I can't seem to find anything. Streit is always a guy who says the right things but also looks for the silver lining. But even he couldn't find anything this afternoon after the Isles fell 6-0 to the Ottawa Senators in a game that had a lot riding on it for both teams.

To be honest, it was refreshing to see Streit be as pointed as he was during the post game interviews. Furthermore, it was good to see Jack Capuano as honest as we've seen him this season.

Capuano went as far as to call out his entire team with the exception of Matt Martin. Capuano stated that Martin was the only guy who showed any sort of life.

"There was no pushback. A game like that, you've gotta be physical. Martin was the only one who stepped to the plate."

Capuano clearly is displeased with the physical aspect of the Isles game, even throughout their decent stretch of play lately.

"At this time of year you need the physicality. We weren't physical enough. We need an injection in our line-up, we need something happening here. We can't have the emotion we had out here tonight."

Throughout the last few weeks, it's been pretty evident that these games are all getting pretty physical. Although the Islanders may have only had Martin in for the rough stuff, others players were getting chippy themselves, like Andrew MacDonald and P.A. Parenteau. But a lot of that was missing Monday afternoon.

If anything, Parenteau was a bit counter productive. He put his team in a vulnerable position a few times, and took a few penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct, which is a bit out of character for him.

No matter how you slice it, this was absolutely a wacky game for the Isles. Nothing clicked, and they had a difficult time navigating around the solid Ottawa defense. I was rather impressed with how physical they were, namely Sergei Gonchar and Erik Karlsson. But Ottawa came out hard and heavy and the Islanders just had a difficult time matching, for various reasons.

Every team is going to have games like this. It's easy to say it always happens to the Islanders. I even feel the same way at times. Then times like Monday night happens, where the Capitals lose 5-0 to Carolina. Ironically this helps the Isles as they remain six points out of eight heading into Buffalo on Tuesday.

If the Islanders can rebound Tuesday, then great. It's going to be a tough task because Buffalo is really playing some very nice hockey right now, and is getting back to full health. The Islanders will likely be without Evgeni Nabokov again, and both Kevin Poulin and Al Montoya saw a lot of scrambling in front of them against Ottawa even though Poulin only lasted about two minutes.

While back-to-back games really aren't the teams forte the last few seasons, it won't take much to improve from this effort. They came out better in the third and controlled the play for a decent portion. It would go a long way for them if the same can happen in the first period on Tuesday. The advantage of the back-to-back is it affords the Isles the chance to quickly erase the memory of Monday afternoon.

Going on the road, where the Isles have actually done well in recent weeks, we'll see if they can get back on the right track.

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