Four minutes into this one, it seemed odd that Joey MacDonald was slow in getting up when the puck bounced off the back boards, providing a near-open net for Michal Rozsival (a more overpaid Ranger might have buried it). Five minutes in, a strange buzzkill/hush-slash-nooow what? washed over an amped-up crowd. MacDonald was down and it took him three seconds to tell the trainer, "I'm done." Official word is a groin strain.
Even before that, right around game time, Newsday's Greg Logan was breaking news that Garth Snow was negotiating with Wade Dubielewicz to rejoin the team, because Rick DiPietro has become a bigger question mark with each passing swell of the knee -- and the club has shown little inclination to use Yann "Shuttle" Danis, who was woken from his first-period nap to spell MacDonald last night. Dubie's agent says he's negotiating with three teams (um ... who else needs a goalie that badly?). Bluffing or not, I think Dubie's price just went up.
Ironically, with the Islanders playing in "Good God, Protect Danis" mode for the next period-plus, the Islanders controlled play. They ended the first with a slapshot goal by Chris Campoli and a flurry of pressure. Would the Islanders pull out a low-scoring win by playing a tighter style favored by the fallen Brendan Witt -- who both Isles announcers said looked very active out there?
Well, no. Rangers win, 2-1, with two goals just two minutes apart in the second. It was a rather unemotional game, but it wasn't a bad game. Just quick, dull and with few stoppages -- that's how the Rangers roll this season. The Islanders made two serious mistakes that led to two goals. The worst one: While shorthanded, Blake Comeau leads a 3-on-2 down the wing and shoots wide, into the corner -- ringing it around for the Rangers to start their own 3-on-1 (against Witt, no less). The season series is now 3-1, Smurfs, and the best the Isles can do is tie it in the final two.
So the Islanders' goaltending situation just got more interesting. Tanking just got even easier. But the youngster evaluation period -- now with the return of Frans Nielsen, too -- is just getting started.
Juxtaposition of the Night
(courtesy of Chris Botta after a neighbor asked him what's up with Bill Guerin)
Guerin, on the worst team in the National Hockey League, has totals that would rank him tied with Drury for second in goals on the Rangers to Naslund and second in points to Nikolai Zherdev. Guerin’s -9 is on par with Naslund’s -11, Gomez’s -10 and Drury’s -5. The Rangers’ lineup has earned twice as many victories as the Islanders.
And with that, I'm going to go to fall asleep to dreams of Tavares skating circles around Sather's aging Rangers millionaires.