MacDonald’s Performance Not Enough in 2-1 Loss to New Jersey

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I’m sure most Islander fans weren’t exactly thrilled last night when they saw Joey MacDonald was in net. However, in the end, he was the brightest star on the team and kept them in it until the last minute.

Unfortunately, his effort wasn’t enough, as the Isles offense and forecheck looked flaccid in a 2-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils.

The first period wasn’t so bad, but the next 40 minutes saw the Islanders chasing the puck and failing to get anything going in the offensive zone. Richard Park was perhaps the only Islander to have multiple opportunities, but two crossbars nullified any hopes of him getting on the scoresheet.

The powerplay started off well enough as well, as Doug Weight cashed in after his slap shot hit off a Devils defenseman’s skate and found it’s way to the back of the net. But much like the forecheck and offensive attack, the powerplay tried to get too fancy and spent more time making passes than taking shots. The stellar penalty killing of John Madden also played a role, as he was all over the ice and was clogging up passing lanes.

Overall, the “Over Speed” system set up by new Islanders coach Scott Gordon wasn’t really a factor, simply because the Isles weren’t playing solid hockey. They were too busy watching the Devils play their game that they couldn’t play their own. We’ll see how things go over the new few weeks before I really share my thoughts on whether or not this team can play an up-tempo style.

On another note, despite the fact that he drew two penalties on the night, I don’t know if any hockey pundit could rationalize how Andy Hilbert managed to squeak his way into the lineup in favor of Blake Comeau. Is he hurt or am I missing something here? Aside from setting up Jon Sim for a decent opportunity in the second, Hilbert shanked a wide open opportunity of his own in the second, proving once again that he is not a finisher in this league.

Speaking of guys that have had trouble finishing for the Islanders, when will Mike Comrie stop using the toe drag? I counted three times tonight that he tried the move and all three times, he got his pocket picked. In order for this team to make the playoffs this season, Comrie, alongside guys like Doug Weight, Bill Guerin, Trent Hunter and Mark Streit, will all have to contribute on offense.

That didn’t exactly happen last night and that’s one of the reasons why the Islanders went home without a win.

Photo by NHL Media.