Last night’s game against the Buffalo Sabres was one of those games that leaves you muttering to yourself and most likely had many a fan cursing under their breaths. If one caught various parts of the game and simply looked at most of the stats, one would have been led to believe that the New York Islanders blew out their opponents.
On top of that, with the Islander debut of Lubomir Visnovsky, and the return of Josh Bailey to the lineup, it was probably one of the only times this year we got to see the actual “full” compliment of the team we expected to take the ice this season. For me, I was pretty excited about that. I have been a fan of Lubo’s ever since he played in Los Angeles and Edmonton. He is, to me, the kind of defensemen this team needed to add some scoring and solid play in the defensive zone.
Again, on paper, other than the final score, there were a lot of positives. Buffalo drew first blood in the first when Tomas Vanek scored, but John Tavares got it back for the Isles. Then, in the second, the Sabres retook the lead to only have Colin McDonald tie it back up again with his first goal as an Islander. However, Alexander Sulzer ended up scoring in the third for the Sabres on a shot that Nabokov partially stopped, but still ended up in the net behind him. The Isles just could not get the equalizer in the end and dropped the 3-2 decision to Buffalo.Overall, here are my “blind observations” from the game and those covering the last week of play by the Islanders:
• When you out shoot an opponent 43-15, you should beat them. Yes, I take nothing away from Ryan Miller, as he played a great game. Still, I found myself wondering where the offense from the first seven games of the season had gone?
• Lubomir Visnovsky played extremely well for his first game back in the NHL. He had his skating legs, moved the puck well and was quite “visible” throughout the sixty minutes. I liked the pairing with Brian Strait, though I don’t know if that is the “plan” for the team for the rest of the season.
• Josh Bailey is back! Seven shots in the game and noticeable the entire game. I thought the fourth line with Matt Martin and Casey Cizikas was quite effective.
• OK, beat on Kyle Okposo all you want, but it is not a matter of lack of effort in my view. He just is not having any luck at all. He is like Charlie Brown receiving a rock in his trick or treat bag at every house thus far ….
• As I have said a number of times thus far, defensive break downs and lapses are going to be the death of this team and … me … as a fan. Obviously, perfection is wishful thinking, but it seems that every mistake the Isles make end up as a puck in their net. Last night saw examples of guys missing their assignments or standing around like statues. The Ranger game was another case of lapses costing them goals.
• Evgeni Nabokov can lead this team to the playoffs. Let me be clear about that. He has kept this team in games they might have not deserved to be in, and he has been hung out to dry on a few occasions. Still, he has not looked strong over the last few games, and the Islanders are going to have to spell Nabby. Ricky is going to have to start games, and if he is not able to, a solution has to be formulated, whether that be Poulin or someone else.
• OK, I liked the 4.1 or so goals a game the Isles were averaging over the first seven games. Yeah, perhaps it was unrealistic, but yet I also believe this team can score goals. At the moment, though, they need primary and secondary scoring a Lot more consistently.
• The Isles are still in it. There is, indeed, no need to “panics’ just yet. Yes, it’s a short season and, yes, squandering points kills me as a fan. Nevertheless, a lot of teams are playing up and down hockey, and the pack is going to be thick throughout the season.
• Not to be accused of “taking” shots at management because I am not general management material and I Fully believe Garth is doing and has been doing a fantastic job with the team. It was, though, pointed out to me by a friend that PA Parenteau, who I have on my fantasy team, has scored 7 goals this season and Al Montoya notched a shutout yesterday against a good Senator team with 33 saves.
The Islanders play again on Monday against the Hurricanes. Will we see Nabokov again in net, or will the Isles give Rick DiPietro another shot? In either case, the Islanders need to play with the kind of domination we saw yesterday, but with more goals in the process.