Two keepsake pucks were collected in the Islanders' 3rd period in Phoenix Friday. Unfortunately, neither meant much to the game in which they were tallied.
Josh Bailey looked inspired all night -- more inspired than he's played in weeks. Was he motivated by all of those thriving young peers on the Coyotes' bench? Or by watching the WJC on TV? Regardless, his form was enough to get him several chances and finally, in game number 25 of his NHL career, Bailey's first career goal and 10th career point, off a feed to the slot from Bill Guerin. May there be many more.
Later, with the game all but decided at 5-2, 16:54 into the third, in game number 1,167 of his NHL career, Doug Weight sent a seeing-eye, rink-wide diagonal pass to spring Richard Park for the goal that is Weight's 1,000th point. He's the 73rd NHLer and 8th American to do so. [Great images of the moment and celebration at the Islanders official site here.]
Nice that the Islanders got two lingering milestones out of the way -- and nice that Doug Weight's family could see his 1,000th point in person, in sunny Phoenix, rather than trucking along to frigid Alberta. And nice of the Coyotes to offer a stoppage and standing ovation. But it's a shame the milestone point didn't come at a more critical point in, say, a win. Alas, you can't write the script, so you entice loved ones to southern climes and hope for the best.
This Scott Gordon quote tells you how things have gone this season for the Islanders:
"The highlight of the game was getting Weight his 1,000th point ... We're all happy for him. I'm sure he's excited and relieved it's over. It's quite a milestone."
That's just how things have gone. With injuries crippling youth development time, the highlights have been Garth Snow's two brilliant free agent signings: Reinvigorated Weight, and long-term blueline revelation Mark Streit.
Game Notes, Concerns
Freddy Meyer IV has not looked good in recent weeks. Overexposed? Regressing to the mean? I don't know. But his play worryingly seems to oscillate between impressively stable to running around -- and I wonder if its related to the comfort of having a regular place in the lineup? His best play as an Islanders seems to be when his job is on the line. He was a minus-4 on this night, but more importantly he didn't look good on a couple of Coyote goals. After Brendan Witt made the initial error on the first goal, Viktor Tikhonov undressed Meyer to get an open backhand on DiPietro.
The Finnish Conspiracy: Early in the first, it was hilarious to see Sean Bergenheim and Olli Jokinen collide at the Coyote net, turn to take a big whack at each other -- and then hold back suddenly, as each realized he was staring a fellow countryman in the eye. I can hear Gordie Howe fuming: "Why back in my day, we didn't have friends on the other team..."
'The Comeback': As has been their form lately, the Islanders notched a goal with the goalie pulled, Park's second of the game. But I'm not giving them credit for an almost comeback that really only flattered the scoreline. Too little, too late, too sabotaged by earlier mistakes. Speaking of which...
Late Goals: Chris Campoli's offensive-zone penalty on the PP killed -- and apparently ticked off Scott Gordon -- but the delayed-penalty goal that followed with 10 seconds left in the first really stung. DiPietro's weakest goal -- on Shane Doan's bad-angle shot -- came with 4:55 left in the 2nd to make it 3-1.
The Franchise: Rick DiPietro looked okay in his 2nd start in the last two months. Didn't look as awkward getting up as he did in the Toronto game after Christmas. But with this guy lately, who knows how he'll be feeling the rest of the trip?
Back at it tonight in San Jose, for the banner stop on this Western how-to-rebuild tour.