No lead is comfortable with the Islanders lately, so when Chris Campoli made it 3-0 on the Senators just 4 minutes into the third, that wasn't cause to relax. Fortunately, the Islanders are getting better and better at sticking to their system despite the urge to sit on a lead. The Sens pulled to within one in the final two minutes, but that was it. A chaotic final minute saw the Islanders prevent Ottawa from even breaking into the zone cleanly. Joey MacDonald's 38 saves played no small part.
Perhaps some day -- maybe when the stakes get higher -- the Isles will have to adopt some form of Quenneville-esque bunker tactic for late leads. But right now, the Go-Go-Gordon lab experiment continues, and his charges are getting closer to the right chemical proportions.
"We've been in the lead [seven] of the last eight, and leads that were two-goal leads, leads we should have held. ... But we also say, hey, we played without five of our top six 'D.' Ricky's on the shelf. We've got a team that can compete. We've got a system that's good for our team. We've got guys that are believing more and more in themselves, and hopefully, we can keep going in that direction."
>>Doug Weight, Newsday
Though they came out banging, and they managed a near-miss comeback, the Senators are a slumping, confidence-challenged team right now. So I'm not getting out party hats after this home-and-home sweep (A festive cupcake will suffice). But there is something about watching Gordon's forechecking system when it's on that delights. It feels a bit like playing an EA NHL game when you're pressing "turbo" on your forwards repeatedly. Fatigue seems an afterthought.
Consistently, as the opposing defenseman spins to avoid one forechecker, a second one comes flying in at often surprising angles. Sometimes a third is there, while the first rotates back to a more defensive posture. The result can be a defenseman who doesn't see predictable "lanes" to avoid, who ends up making a hurried, choppy, or even intercepted pass.
It's fun to watch and looks like hell to defend. No better time than this season to see if they can make a go of Go-Go's game in this league.