A blowout and blown lead equate to four points after a disappointing trip to Dracula’s grave. Oh, and the obnoxious cousins are coming over this weekend.
First, let’s look back on the (workman-like) week that was there.
Last week for the New York Islanders
Game 36: 2-1 loss to the Penguins
These vampires have finally won enough blood from the islanders, so we don’t have to be chased by their creepy undead corpses until, possibly, the playoffs. The other (hardly) good thing about this game was that the first period did not give way to a blowout. The Islanders played better in periods two and three, but it wasn’t enough.
There’s just something about these guys that just ticks me off. Maybe it’s how they always manage to replace an injured regular with a boy from the minors that no one has ever heard of, who somehow plays just as well as the guy he’s replacing. Maybe it’s how Pittsburgh media types behave like this doesn’t happen every season. Maybe it’s how their keepers go through horrible plays every year, magically start making rescues, and everyone suddenly calls them a dark horse contender again (funny how that works).
Maybe it’s just the smug, shit-eating looks at all the penguins that stand out all game long. It’s like someone cloned the biggest bastard in your high school 22 times and put them all on skates. Maybe it’s me.
Sweeping the Penguins two seasons ago hasn’t softened these feelings, nor did taking the season series from them last year. Every season is a new boxing match with them and the Islanders have lost it convincingly. If they do meet in the playoffs, I trust Trotz has a plan based on what they learned from these games. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make me any less worried.
Game 37: 8-4 wins the capitals
I was lucky enough to be at the Barclays Center for Mat Barzal’s first hat-trick of his career, against the Winnipeg Jets back in 2017. It was a family outing with my wife and daughter and my best friend and his family and it couldn’t have been more fun. The kids are still talking about it, and my daughter still has the hat we had to buy later after we threw the one she was wearing on the ice.
Now it’s a throw at which one will be more memorable: the one I saw live and still in my head or the insane display of skill I saw on TV in this game.
It’s hard to pick a favorite. The end-to-end rush through every capital on the ice (including Hall-of-Fame defender Zdeno Chara and Hall-of-Shame dipshit Tom Wilson) to score on one foot only? The reversing whip in the other side of the net that Arthur Staple called a fadeaway jumper? Or the baseball swing to complete the trick just before the end? There is no wrong answer. Barzal already had two or three Goal-of-the-Year candidates this season. Then he just casually decided to add three more entries in the same game, just to solidify that hell in the conversation.
He had a cold streak to get into that match, but if there’s anyone who can make a slump in the most dramatic way possible, it’s the guy who deserves to throw roses at his skates after every match
Game 38: 3-2 SO win the Flyers
They got the two points and that’s what matters. The Flyers played one of their better games recently, but the Islanders did what they had to do to get the win.
There are periods when the islanders spend hours looking up front. They are able to just grind and cycle and force and hold and drive the other team insane. Whether that all leads to a goal is almost irrelevant. The other team is stuck in its own zone and away from the islanders ‘net and slowly breaks down over time, which works to the islanders’ advantage.
And then there are periods when they … don’t. That was the third period on Saturday evening.
In his post-game comments, Barry Trotz didn’t seem too concerned about the Flyers’ return to level the game, pointing to a few lucky bounces and opportunities that allowed Claude Giroux to score twice in the third. The islanders still had three major danger opportunities in the period, so it wasn’t a total outage or anything. It seemed like they came out of the second break with less of a lead than they had played before.
It could have had something to do with missing Ross Johnston and Oliver Wahlstrom for a while, or because Carter Hart rediscovered the form he’d been in the bubble last year. Does not matter. They overcame those problems and secured the points.
Record for the week: 2-1-0
Season record: 24-10-4
Next week for the New York Islanders:
Tuesday April 6 versus the capitals
I don’t expect the Islanders to win 8-4 again, but I do expect Wilson to do something incredibly reckless, potentially dangerous and downright stupid in this game. The Caps were upset about … something towards the end of the latter (probably the score first and foremost) and the tough Wilson could see the islanders chirping from the Washington couch before finally filing off the ice.
Wilson is a loose cannon in most games. With a grudge and an outburst in his head, hell probably shoots at the first head he can hit an elbow in. All the while, Caps fans will no doubt approve of his insanity, because the islanders have [insert player with less suspensions than Tom Wilson here] on their roster. He’s just that bad!
[Note: He is nowhere near just as bad.]
Thursday April 8 vs the Flyers
The great thing about the Flyers is that we have no idea what they will look like when the rematch takes place next Thursday. Will they be the capable team with the quality of goaltending that scored a point against the islanders on Saturday? Or will it be the uninterested dead men who seemed determined to give the Sabers multiple ways to get out of their epic lost streak last week? Who knows?!
The islanders should be prepared for those two or an option in between.
Friday April 9 and Sunday April 11 vs the Rangers
It’s been so long since the islanders played the Rangers that I almost forgot they existed. What a fun reality that would be.
The Rangers are doing their annual thing, pissing off most of the first half of the season and having them switched on to scare the rest of the division (Flyers fans will be traumatized for a while thanks to the back to their hands have gotten). That said, the islanders shouldn’t take them lightly; they are fast and can score in bunches, and both keepers are capable of stealing a match.
There is a very strange dynamic between these two rivals these days. The Islanders are the experienced team with the established coach and GM and plans to win a championship soon. The Rangers have more work-in-progress in their lineup and are a few years away from a real contender. Of course, some things never change. The Rangers’ best player was a free agent who signed a huge contract, Brooksie says skys the limit or it falls, and their stupid fans still hate Denis Potvin for a clean check.
These are now games the islanders need to win. They can, but they shouldn’t take them for granted either.
Predicted record for the week: 3-1. Still need points so just get them.
Canadian sports writers say the damnest things:
Growing up, it felt like the Yankees used other Major League teams as their own personal farm clubs. Someone like the Royals or Rangers or Tigers would draft and develop good players, watch them become All Stars or at least quality regulars, and then the Yankees would dive in and steal them in exchange for their layoffs. But again, I may be wrongly remembering. Maybe it was just their fans (of which I was one at the time) who were wish kills or armchairs to turn those All Stars into pinstripes for peanuts.
I thought about that era when I read James Mirtle suggests the Leafs trade for Chris Driedger, who happens to be the starting goalkeeper for Panthers, as Toronto could use a third option should Freddie Andersen or Jack Campbell falter in the playoffs.
I mean, why would a team with the best season it’s had in half a decade – at the time of writing, Florida ranks first overall in the league – want to keep their starting goalkeeper when they can send him to Toronto to play in to sit the press box? This is the Leafs talked about! They are the only team that matters.
Now, Florida is playoff-bound, and Driedger is the best goalkeeper, so it’s not given that he is available. But his name is there in enough places in the league that it’s worth at least seeing what the asking price would be. (And super prospect Spencer Knight is on his way to South Florida
Driedger is a rental company, but the Leafs need another net lesser next year, assuming Andersen isn’t coming back. Would it make sense as a backup test drive for the backup?
I say yes.
I say you’re a huge loser, Jim.
The other transactions he suggests all involve players rumored to be also for the islanders, such as Kyle Palmieri and Nick Foligno. How would the Leafs fit nearly $ 7 million below their limit? By letting the trading clubs keep half of the player’s salary, of course. Why wouldn’t they? It’s the leaves! Everyone loves them!
Unless they don’t.
Alternative programming options:
The Islanders teamed up with Nickelodeon last weekend for a broadcast of their game against the Flyers. You had to download the HomeTurf app on your tablet and watch the game on your TV or PC to experience the Nick stuff. It was trivia games and polls and hockey rules with slime pictures and cartoon characters and it was pretty neat, even if a little generic.
As the father of a 10-year-old (and someone who often thinks like a 10-year-old), Nickelodeon is around my house quite often, and there are a few shows that I don’t mind. The best of these is the All new, an update / revival of the old sketch comedy show some of you may have grown up with. The original was a bit after my time, but the new one is always very funny and the kids are all equally good. The skits are never more than welcome (which would be difficult with only half an hour per episode, minus a short musical act) and are usually very creative.
The piece that makes our whole family laugh out loud every time we see it in three parts Behind the music parody about DJ Salad and his beef with Cardi Beef. It’s absurd and ridiculous and puntastic and most of all hilarious.
This is Part II, where the meat heats up (!) But watch Part I. and Part III (with Toast Malone!) also. If you have kids and want to watch something with them that won’t melt your brain, the All new is definitely worth seeking out.
Classic Islanders Clip Just For Fun:
First of all, if you haven’t already listened to the Joes interview with Steven Niciforo, the founder of IslandersPride (who is also @IslesHistorical on Twitter) then you definitely should. Steven is clearly a huge islander fan and his insights into the underground market of old hockey games are fascinating.
This short ESPN preview of the 1994 playoff series Rangers-Islanders belongs in a time capsule. That streak would forever change the dynamic between these two teams, and in many ways, the islanders have still not quite recovered.
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