The sustainability of Scott Gordon's system may be up for debate -- whether it causes more injuries/fatigue, whether it can reliably protect late leads, whether it's worth doing with a weaker lineup, etc. -- but that's not a debate I'm going to feel comfortable having, or at least resolving, until the Islanders have more assets (healthy ones at that) who consistently play it.
And that means after at least one more draft and free agent period, if not more. (Okay: certainly more.) For now, I'm just going to enjoy the nights when they do make it interesting. Thursday was not such a night.
"There's no excuse for tonight," said Gordon. "We should play with a lot more energy. We cut too many corners. Washington came out hungry off a tough loss. We didn't compete at the same level."
And there you have it. Game, set, hockey match.
The Islanders have shown that when they play Gordon's system in earnest, they can be impressive and entertaining. When they don't, they're exposed for the underskilled team that they are. Tonight they were nowhere; just guys in random spots, totally powerplay-dependent. Tonight showed that it doesn't matter how long the injury list is (and indeed, there are injuries o' plenty on both sides), if the Capitals have Ovechkin and the Islanders don't skate, it's no contest. The Capitals came out like they meant it, and the Islanders gave up 47 shots.
Joey MacDonald wasn't stellar -- he was shaky on several rebounds and slow to cover -- but he'd have had to be out of this world to salvage this one. We're 25 games into the season now; this is the first time I've been wholly turned off by their performance.
Because they've had enough time to get the system down. They had four days between games. Injuries or not, the guys who played tonight from 1 through 19 didn't look ready. As a fan, I got the feeling they were collectively telling me, "We're just not that into you." More links and random notes after the jump.
"When you're not playing well, things add up," said Islanders Head Coach Scott Gordon. "It's almost like we got what we deserved. We didn't deserve the breaks tonight."
That's about right. So when Campoli scored by dumping the puck in from center ice off the linesman's foot (it was waved off for a rule I didn't know), the Isles didn't deserve it anyway.
- On Brashear's go-ahead goal, poor Doug Weight was getting manhandled trying to bump that beast off. Hard to move Brashear when he decides it's now his crease.
- Just about everyone was unimpressive tonight. But this was the first time I can remember Josh Bailey being invisible.
- Mike Sillinger, too, wasn't noticeable in his first NHL game since February, though he won 11 of 19 faceoffs (Doug Weight, shockingly, was 10-15).
- MacDonald made some great saves to give the Isles a chance, but he just looked a bit slow on some of the average ones. Leaving holes when shots fortunately went wide. Being slow to locate and smother pucks in goalmouth scrambles.
- Freddy Meyer played 24 minutes.
- Mitch Fritz, the element of toughness, got a whopping 1:26, and a minor penalty.
- Brendan Witt still hasn't looked like the Old Brendan Witt since coming back from the knee-on-knee hit.
- On a happy note, with the assist, Weight is now 8 points from 1,000.
Atlanta's up Saturday at home. That's one the Isles need to take.