December 15, 2013

Habs drop Isles in OT in Strome's Debut

The last time the Isles won a home game that went to OT was on February 11th, 2012 against the Kings. That would not change Saturday night against the Montreal Canadiens.

The Isles lost again in OT, failing to get to the skills competition which is the only way they've been able to win games that go into extra frames at the Coliseum.

The thing that makes this game unique was that the score was 0-0 in it's entirety, with the Isles showing some good jump in their overall play. All night they had several good plays that developed, but no one was able to finish them.

There were several chances the Isles had in the crease that either went just wide of Carey Price or missed the net completely. This frustrated many players and fans of course, and at the same time you could hear the collective sigh of relief from the bus load of Montreal fans that made the trip in the snow.

Ryan Strome's debut is going to be what we most remember this game for, and it was a solid one. In just under 15 minutes of ice time, Strome saw lots of time on the powerplay, and although the Isles didn't produce much of anything with the man advantage they did have some nice chances and Strome was a big part of that.

For 5-on-5 play, he brought a good element of speed that this team has needed. He had a couple of rushes up ice where he forced the opposition defense deep into the zone and the Isles were then able to create some plays from down low and behind the net. It was a welcome sight and certainly I hope we see more of in the upcoming games.

Evgeni Nabokov made his return since injuring his groin against the Detroit Red Wings and was phenomenal. He stopped virtually everything that was sent his way, and late in the third made some key saves to preserve the tie game and earn the Isles a point.

In overtime the defensive lapse was provided by some likely candidates of late in Aaron Ness and Thomas Hickey. Hickey was thrown off and started going the wrong way when trying to cover David Desharnais and ended up chasing him behind the net, while Ness had issues tying up Max Pacioretty, who had the relatively easy task of just needing to put his stick down to slide the puck past Nabokov for the win.

To say the fact the Isles couldn't come out with both was disappointing points is an understatement. The team still only has one win in their past 13 games and there doesn't seem to be any end in sight, especially when you can't seem to find the back of the net.

I think it's a good thing that the physical element seems to have come back for the Isles and it's created some good things for them. The board play is still lacking but the aggression level against the boards has picked up too and it's giving the team some good possessions. Now they just have to figure out how they can convert and get out of the "hands of stone" thoughts that seems to be in all of their minds.

The Isles are probably thrilled (not that he got hurt, however) that Steven Stamkos won't be in the line-up when they face the Lightning on Tuesday. However, Tampa still has been able to put up a solid showing and sits 3rd in the Atlantic, so they are a tough opponent. They still have plenty of weapons and have gotten some solid goaltending out of Ben Bishop.

If the Isles can walk away with two points - which would be three of four - it will go a long way in trying to reach Jack Capuano's goal of chipping away and putting together some points streaks to make up what they've missed out on. But lets hope the goals come first.

- Chris

NYI FYI was done on Saturday due to other commitments during our normal Sunday time slot. You can catch the podcast of the show out our Podbean page.

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