April 14, 2013

Isles fall to Rangers in OT but still get Huge Point

As far as 'first goal wins' games go, the Islanders and Rangers played what was one of the most exciting ones that I have ever seen. Unfortunately for the Islanders, they were the team that made the costly mistake in overtime to give the Rangers the victory. Josh Bailey lost his man after getting bumped by a teammate, allowing Dan Girardi open space to skate in and win it with a wrist shot.

The overtime point still gives the Isles a one point lead over the Rangers but the Rangers have played one less game.

The Islanders continued their hot play however, and for much of this game were the better team. They had some great scoring chances that Henrik Lundqvist denied, which comes as no surprise. Aside from Evgeni Nabokov, Lundqvist has been one of the hottest goaltenders recently and has kept the Rangers in games all season.

Both goaltenders were beaten by pucks. However, the posts were truly their best friends.

The physical aspect of the game was certainly there, and the Islanders didn't disappoint in that regard. As a matter of fact it felt like the Islanders had the better of physical play. I thought they did a great job with play along the boards, and didn't shy away from those battles, often emerging with the puck and generating more of the sustained pressure.

What did drive me nuts however was the Islanders tried to get too fancy at times. In some delayed attempts at shooting and looking for the perfect opportunity, it allowed Lundqvist and the Rangers defense to get into position to either block the shot or make the save. The Rangers did a nice job of clogging up the middle of the ice in the slot and the Islanders continuously tried to get the puck to that area but in general there was nothing doing.

The shot blocking routine is nothing new. It's the style that got the Rangers all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals last season. We saw how the Devils handled that - by capitalizing on mistakes. The Islanders waited far too long to try and get their chances off after Ranger mistakes.

The Islanders can hold their heads high knowing that if they play the way they played Saturday night, then they will have no issues getting into the postseason. The Islanders clearly were the better team, and I think the Rangers realize how fortunate they were to be the ones to walk away with that extra point.

The Islanders welcome Florida next on Tuesday for their home finale at the Coliseum. Florida is not to be taken lightly, having given playoff hopefuls a run for their money in games recently. After many years of seeing the Islanders playing loose and trying to be spoilers, they should know a thing or two about being a team in a potential trap game. This time around though, the roles are reversed.

If the Islanders do what they have been doing for the past three weeks, then they should have no problem heading on their five game road trip with two points.

NYI FYI Sunday: Sean and I will be back at it, on the air Sunday at our usual 11 AM time slot. For those tuning in live, be sure to catch us by following the links on the NYI FYI homepage and be sure to bring your questions and comments to the chat room. Otherwise, look for the podcast within the next couple of days.

- Chris

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