Well, crap. The Islanders played a great first period -- got the go-ahead goal and got the Sharks worried. Then it all fell apart.
So which is it: Did the Isles simply blow it? Take their foot off the gas? Did they just wake up a sleeping giant, who exacted vengeance for the next two periods? And what, pray tell, is the answer? Sure, it's a rebuild, these are growing pains -- but every NHL team gets wins*, so what's keeping the Isles from getting theirs?
* may exclude the Leafs. Experiences may vary.
Why can't the Isles sustain two consecutive periods of commanding play? Does the other team too easily adjust? Does this youthful team crumble at the first sign of adversity -- which tonight, was a penalty call that followed a blown call the other way, leading to a power play goal that, it turned out, stemmed from an offside the linesman missed? Do they lack confidence and self-belief, which took a strong hit when they blew a 3-0 lead in five disastrous minutes in Boston?
I don't know the answer, but I don't think we'll get it Wednesday night against the Hurricanes, who outscored the Islanders 24-9 last season while greedily walking away with all 8 points.
Notes and Pleas
The Big Line: Another great effort by Matt Moulson, Kyle Okposo and John Tavares, who combined on the lone, powerplay goal. Obviously one necessary ingredient is another line that can contribute some offense.
Turning points: Maybe if the offside is called before the first Sharks goal. Maybe if Doug Weight doesn't hit the post in the closing seconds of the 2nd, when he would've tied it at 2-2. Maybe if the Islanders don't open the third by giving up a powerplay goal to give the Sharks easy insurance.
A fight, a hit, a something: Not much life in the third, which might reflect shaky confidence. When there finally was a fight -- Tim Jackman and Ryan Clowe -- it was far too little, too late. This is a young team, yes, but three youngsters happen to be their three best players. Is that a problem or a cause for hope?
Stat of the night: Rechlicz: Two shifts, 1:08 TOI. This is the Fritz treatment, squared.
Questions for Next Time
Goaltending: It was discussed in the game thread that the Islanders need somebody to take the reins in goal. It would be nice to ride one guy on a hot streak, but without so much as a win (much less a shutout), who will deserve consecutive starts? Martin Biron did well early, does not take the blame for the loss, but was caught cheating on Setoguchi's goal and still gave up four.
The Lineup: Really now, it's not yet time for Jeff Tambellini to get his second game? Exactly who is blocking him at this point? Meanwhile, Jack Hillen did nothing to dissuade me from putting him back out there -- but at whose expense? Does Bruno Gervais get the Tambellini treatment, or can Scott Gordon sit a veteran blueliner?
The Lines: Despite their lack of production, I'm not inclined to rush breaking up Comeau/Bailey/Bergenheim. Might as well give them a little time. At what point, I wonder, does Gordon consider breaking up the number one line for the fabled "balance," though? Not yet, but more of the status quo could eventually bring it up.
The Penalty Kill: Two goals allowed on three opportunities. That will happen, and the Isles were hardly parading to the box. But the early season PK streak is now just a memory. Bears watching.
Suggestions, observations, answers, complaints? I'm all ears. Low expectations aside -- and it has been a brutal list of opponents -- this winless start has officially become uncomfortable.
For reaction from the other side, some friendly thoughtful Sharks fans reside at Fear the Fin. Lucky bastards.