Pardon the personal bent to this game reaction post; more game-specific info after the jump.
See, I was supposed to be working on a research paper last night, but a wild night in the NHL (57 goals in 9 games) intervened. It started with an in-game chat among a bunch of the Islanders bloggers, including one who chatted between in-class presentations. That chat was inadvertently cut off before the end of the game, which may be just as well, since it probably allowed us to focus more on the entertaining final 15 minutes of the game and less on cracking each other up via the wonders of modern communication.
More on the game later, but the odyssey continued on to Toronto, where old friend Jason Blake won the shootout over the Devils with a Blakey 360 move. Next to St. Louis, where my inner St. Louisan welcomed the newest SBN blog, St. Louis Game Time, as its ribald band of merry Blues fans watched a loss to the Flames. From there on to Edmonton for a slaughter (more below), and finally to Anaheim, where the Ran- ... the Rang- ... the Short Island Smurfs were visiting for your average California State Rape (also more below).
First, the good news: The Oilers lost 9-2 last night, so that just makes our Pittsburgh debacle all better, doesn't it? Only get this: The Oilers lost at home. In their vintage jerseys. Say what you will, but at least the Isles had the decency to suffer their 9-2 bludgeoning away from home fans, in RBK-icized unis. Now, you may say: "That doesn't take the smell off: The Oilers game was west of the Mississippi, so no one knows it happened. Only New York or Toronto games out West get noticed."
Maybe so, but I feel better. So there.
And for the bad news? About those New York games out West ...
As the busy NHL night migrated through the time zones, I switched to watching the west coast games and found the Short Island Smurfs tied in Anaheim 1-1. I figured, "Alright, the Ducks and the famed Battle of California State Rape (scroll down at your own risk) will take down the Rangers, no problem."
But it was not to be: Scott Niedermayer made a horrid turnover in his own zone to allow the first Rangers goal. Then with three minutes left in the third, game still tied, Chris Pronger -- he of the 10-foot reach and lethal elbows -- lets little Nigel Dawes walk around him and score uncontested! No matter what, you've likely had reason to hate Pronger at one time or another; well, I just acquired one more. He even capped it off by hooking Zherdev on an empty-net breakaway, causing one of those "automatic" goals as ruled by the refs. So much for the schadenfreude of a Rangers loss.
Still, it was a great night to be a hockey fan. And I still haven't finished the damn research paper.
The Islanders Played, Too
Oh, but about the Islanders game. This time, when facing overwhelming firepower at home, the Islanders hung tough. They even made Caps fans feel bad for a period. They created the first sustained buzz all night in the second ... then promptly gave up the fourth goal to make it 4-2. But wait, there's more: They made something of the third period, outshooting the Caps 17-5 and tying -- yes tying -- the game on an inspired, exhausting power play effort as regulation neared its end. The Islanders had been outscored 46-22 in third periods before this game.
To see Weight, Guerin, Bailey and Streit just hanging on to the puck, refusing to give up, determined to use this man advantage opportunity to give something back to a crowd who trudged through some poor weather on a Tuesday night -- well that, that was satisfying. Something that couldn't be said of the previous six games.
I don't even feel all that bad about the Ovechkin winner because 1) he's freaking Ovechkin, hard to contain for five minutes of 4-on-4, and 2) it's freaking modern day OT, where the loser point frees up everything. It was an entertaining OT, and the Isles took their chances. That's all I ask this year; the rest is a roll of the dice.
- Nice to see waiver wire survivor Jon Sim get the big goal -- his 3rd PP goal of the season.
Brendan Witt: He was on for every Capitals goal, a minus-5. I sound like a broken record, but he's just not moving right, and I think that's due to more than being a less-than-ideal fit for Scott Gordon's system. Caps fans winced with us.
- I like Richard Park because he's a smart all-around hockey player who can fill any role, and about 10 or so times per season he scores a goal that shows us he's just a talented all-around player, too.
- Joey MacDonald responded well after two very ugly goals put the Isles in the 2-0 hole. Now, feeling greedy, I suddenly wonder: What if he hadn't given up those gifts? What then?
- In his game recap, Chris Botta got quotes from Capitals "GMGM" about how their rebuild went. Nice stuff for those wavering in faith, but a cautionary note as well:
“Another hard aspect of the whole thing is, you can come up with a plan, and for any of several reasons, it just does not work out. But we were fortunate the pieces came together for us."
Ovechkin, Semin, Backstrom, Green. Yeah, I'd say some pieces came together.