March 3, 2012

Isles Prepare for Tough Boston Matchup

When the Islanders fell to the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night, one of the key reasons why they did was due to the size of the Flyers. The Islanders got off to a quick start, but once the Flyers began using their big bodies things went South.

For as tough as that game was, Saturday afternoons against the Bruins will be equally as tough. The Islanders don't appear to have any immediate answer to Milan Lucic or Shawn Thornton. The only guy who can matchup with them right now is Matt Martin. A few others such as Nino Niederreiter and David Ullstrom have big frames but are nowhere near the size or strength of them just yet. Niederreiter has also been scratched the last two games.

Unfortunately, this is going to be a tough downfall to overcome. We saw how easily the Flyers intimidated and skated circles around the Islanders. It could very well happen Saturday afternoon.

There are some good things to watch out for going into Saturday. Josh Bailey scored two of the Isles three goals Thursday, giving him three over the past two games. Despite that, Bailey still only has nine goals on the season. For me personally, I have liked the way Bailey played over the past month or so, and feel he's been throwing the body around a bit, going hard into corners and getting some good scoring opportunities. Are the last two games luck for him, or is he finally going to start chipping in offensively and get some of those opportunities to swing his way? It seems the switch to wing has helped him along. We'll see what he does Saturday afternoon.

Scoring from guys like Bailey and Kyle Okposo, who got the Isles third goal in Philly, have to keep happening moving forward. While making the playoffs is now unlikely after the crushing loss against Washington on Tuesday, it would be nice for the Islanders to get a sense of what they need to add on offense this offseason to jolt the other lines. Many guys here now simply haven't gotten the job done.

As far as goal tending is concerned, Thursday night was not one of Evgeni Nabokov's better performances. However, when you stand on your head as much as he has, it's normal. Every talented goalie in this league has clunkers, but they come few and far between. I'm expecting the Isles will go right back with Nabokov on Saturday afternoon rather than throw the now-recalled Anders Nilsson in the net against a top team once again.

This road trip has been anything but a banner one for the Isles, and I think everyone is looking forward to it ending Saturday afternoon. The Isles will have a quick turnaround before taking on the Devils in a Sunday matinee at the Coliseum.


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