Take the final 30 minutes the Islanders played against Carolina, and the first 30 minutes they played against the Rangers, and you might have a win. Or at least a tie and a chance at the super-duper shootout ("Because Americans demand a winner") bonus point. That's with or without Rick DiPietro, who -- according to some tea leaves -- could be out quite a while longer.
Against the Rangers, there were moments of hope (I fear I'll use those last three words a lot this season): Moments of decent pressure, like when the forecheck forced Ranger off-season gamble Nikolai Zherdev to circle back in his own zone, them make an inexplicable blind pass to ... Kyle Okposo in the slot (Okposo shot high). Or when Park bodied out his man in the corner and fed the slot, where Mike Comrie drew both defenders to leave Okposo open for the goal.
Moments of cohesion, like the few powerplays the Isles didn't abort via bad penalties of their own. At both ends of the ice, Mark Streit continues to show himself to be an astute summer acquisition.
And you could say two of the Ranger goals, the first (Drury's) and the third (Gomez's), came off bad bounces. But ultimately, bad penalties (two by Captain "McNulty" Guerin) killed their flow. And the finishing was lacking. The Rangers played a safe, disciplined game. Against the Islanders right now, that is enough.
Bill Guerin on the decline in the Islanders’ play in the last 30 minutes against the Rangers: “I don’t think it was Rangers pressure. They played a good game, but if we don’t stay in our system, if we have one guy going off on his own page, it’s going to screw things up. From there, everybody feels like they’re just chasing and you just waste energy and everybody’s out of position. We came away from our gameplan. It’s not that we can’t do it. We’re missing discipline in our system, and we’re missing discipline by going to the penalty box all the time.
To echo the recurring theme, it's a work in progress. We're getting bits and glimpses of something bright that might await us down the road. Considering the injury list that includes the franchise goalie -- who could be out for quite sometime -- three of their top four defensemen, and their top faceoff guy, I'll take bits of progress for now.
Joey McDonald, unproven before this season, is showing he's at least a capable backup. Not a disaster and not a reason-for-loss. But not stealing games yet.
Mark Streit (3 goals) and 20-minutes-a-night Doug Weight (5 assists) are single-handedly boosting Garth Snow's free agency record.
Kyle Okposo: 7 shots, 1 goal, lots of presence. The kid is young, so young. So his on-the-job progress is impressive.
Step forward, step back: Jeff Tambellini (not much), Frans Nielsen (10/18 on faceoffs), Sean Bergenheim (causing stuff, but then taking a bad penalty).