October 20, 2013

Isles Comeback Falls Short vs. Canes; NYI FYI Sunday Morning

The first few minutes of the game on Saturday night against the Carolina Hurricanes looked like a carryover of play from the previous game against Edmonton. As time went on though, the Isles regressed in their play and the result would end up being the opposite.

The Isles fell into some traps that they were ultimately unable to recover from as the Hurricanes pulled out a 4-3 win over their new division rivals.

Getting shots on net was something that the Isles had trouble with in this game, which only adds to the frustration. Cam Ward is a very beatable goaltender who is prone to giving up bad goals. He looked very uncomfortable on some of the chances the Isles did take and was down on the ice a lot in a vulnerable position. A few times the Isles were unable to capitalize on this as they locked up or tried to pass to someone for a better shot opportunity, which would fail. The biggest miss on a golden opportunity was by Peter Regin in the first period.

The Islanders are a much smaller team as compared to the Hurricanes and that showed many times in this game. The Isles might have trouble containing the bigger guys like Eric and Jordan Staal all season. The size on the blueline is certainly not a strength, and having the option of playing Matt Carkner doesn't help as we saw Saturday night. He was the culprit on a lot of the good scoring chances by the Canes and contributed to their goal scoring.

Evgeni Nabokov made more movements than we'd normally like to see, and overall have seen this season. I think he still looks confident in net, but didn't have one of his stronger performances. On the Canes 4th goal, I felt he should have been able to make the save on an easy 2-on-1 opportunity. He needs to do a better job of quickly closing the 5-hole if he's going to give the opponent some light there.

Jiri Tlusty had a much needed game against the Isles, and he's developing into yet another one of those infamous Islander killers. He came into the game with not a single point on his stat sheet and walks away with two goals.

The Canes took some risks, and turned the puck over early but the Isles transition game left a little to be desired. They seemed unable to get the puck up the ice to go the other way for a solid chance, and when they did they were very focused on making the extra pass instead of getting towards the net. With momentum beginning to shift to Carolina's side, you could sense everyone starting to get away from their game. The Isles weren't even throwing the body around the way they did against Edmonton.

With just over a minute to go in the second period, Matt Moulson got the Isles on the board with a powerplay goal and the hope was that this would serve as a wake-up call.

However, the Isles wake-up call didn't seem to come until after they were trailing 4-1. Only then did some of the physical play return, and the team realized they had to go with a more up tempo approach on offense. They had a few nice shifts and cycles that didn't result in goals, but were doing what they need to do to be successful - creating plays from down low and behind the net.

Frans Nielsen scored on the powerplay with a little over six minutes to play, and Kyle Okposo would add his own with Nabokov pulled just after a powerplay had expired with 1:01 to play. After two solid chances the Isles were unable to tie the game up and the result was their first regulation loss on home ice in quite some time.

It was nice to see the Isles show some life at points, but it was too little too late. I'm still concerned with their delay in making decisions and trying to make the extra pass. On a few occasions if these were absent the score would have been very different. But unlike some of the previous losses it wasn't a completely awful effort.

To be able to play with Vancouver, the Isles are going to have to go back to the drawing board. That team is too fast and too skilled to be able to make some of these mistakes. If you let Daniel and Henrik Sedin go up the other way with a puck off of a turnover, you won't be able to recover it.

The Canucks don't have the biggest forward group, and the Isles might be able to keep them in check. The Canucks are a team that you can get off their game if you come out throwing the body. With Roberto Luongo not playing at his usual level yet, it may be a good chance to get the physical play going early and put up some quick goals. The Isles forwards won't have much time and space though, given Vancouver's strong defense. It'll be an interesting test for this Isles club.

NYI FYI Sunday: Be sure to tune into NYI FYI on Sunday at 11 AM (hopefully there are no technical issues, which would be the first time in a while). We'll discuss our thoughts on the week that was and preview what we think needs to happen for the Isles in their upcoming games.

You can catch us live through our home page or directly through the uStream page.

Come with your own questions and comments as well!

- Chris

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