Hockey from the Blind Side, What is it About the Hurricanes?

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There is an old expression that says close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades …. I found myself thinking of that last night as the New York Islanders lost again to the Carolina Hurricanes. In the closing moments, I believe it was Matt Donovan who fired a shot on net that was snatched by Anton Khudobin to crush any hopes of a last second comeback.

There was no scoring in the first period of the game, and Carolina drew first blood in the second period on the first of three costly defensive mistakes the Isles made in the game. Manny Malhotra gave the Canes a 1-0 lead, but after a defensive blunder by Carolina, John Tavares evened the game up at 1.

Unfortunately, as has seemed to occur to this team all too many times, more mistakes seem to compound, and these mistakes often lead to more than one goal against them. In this case, Eric Staal and Brent Sutter scored about a minute apart to put the Hurricanes on top 3-1. The second period ended with Carolina up by two goals, and I found myself sitting there shaking my head …. What is it about these Hurricanes? ….

Well, after coming back against Boston to win the game on New Years Eave, I had hope going into the third period. I figured that if they could score 4 unanswered goals against the Bruins, they could overtake Carolina …. I was wrong … Thomas Vanek scored on the power play with 16 seconds left and though the Islanders had several quality chances in the final five or so minutes, Anton Khudobin kept coming up with saves to preserve the game for the Islanders.The problem when you have had a terrible stretch of hockey that has put you several points out of the final playoff position in the conference is that you then have to win games and the teams ahead of you have to lose. While the Isles were winning, so too was everyone else they needed to lose. Thus, 2 points were squandered last night, as the Rangers and Flyers and, of course, Hurricanes all won.

Obviously, there is a lot of hockey still left to play, but I am starting to fall into the camp of my colleague, Paul, who feels the Islanders won’t make the playoffs this year. Nine or eleven points is a big gap to close at this point in the season, and every point is going to be precious and important. I will not say all hope is “lost”, but losing games like this will Not help the Islanders to get themselves back into playoff position. They will need a serious stretch of wins, and this month will say a lot for where they will be in the playoff picture by its conclusion.

Here are a few “blind Observations” I will leave you with from the game last night:

• As well as the Tavares, Vanek and Okposo line has been playing, I believe they were on for all 3 Hurricane goals. We surely need them to score goals, but there also has to be defensive responsibility as well.

• I have said it already, but what is it about the Hurricanes? It is now 11 of their last 14 that the Islanders have lost at home to the Hurricanes. I had my concerns about this game before hand, and those concerns, unfortunately, proved to be accurate.

• Eric Staal seems to Kill the Islanders. It seems every game I catch against Carolina, Staal scores a goal or figures in the scoring.

• On the positive side, the effort was there throughout most of the game, and most guys played with intensity. However, as Jack Capuano indicated after the game, there were some guys who didn’t seem to mentally show up as well. I agree with his assertion that all 20 guys have to come to play in order for this team to have success.

• Poor Michael Grabner … again, he just can’t Buy a goal. Did some shaman hex this guy somewhere? ….

• It seems we will not see Lubomir Visnovsky back on the ice until, possibly, after the Olympic break. This is Not good news for the Islanders at all.

I forgot to mention this in my last post, but I want to take the opportunity to wish everyone a happy 2014. Thank you for visiting our humble blog and taking the time to read our contributions. It makes the effort surely worth while for me personally. As always, too, thank you to Gary and my colleagues for their continued support and encouragement.

Next up for the Isles is a visit from the Dallas Stars on Monday. I will be at this one in the press box with Gary. I am definitely looking forward to this one. Because of my own insane schedule, though, I may not be able to post about the game until Wednesday.

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