"Given the way we were against Montreal, it's a huge step forward," Gordon said. "I honestly think that we've gotten some performances out of some players that we haven't seen in a while." [Isles site]...
"It's frustrating, but there was a lot more good than bad. ... It's not going to be easy for us, but we have to understand that and develop a killer instinct."
We're not selling kool-aid here, but we've got to recognize signs of improvement when they're there. Check out Chickendirt's FanPost for a bit about that and reasonable expectations for this early schedule. While this was yet another lost third-period lead, and yet another home OT loss to the Capitals -- it was also a genuine bounce back after the horror in Montreal, and by all accounts a hard-as-we-can performance against one of the league's elite teams.
How good was the opponent? The Capitals have now lost two one-goal games this season, one OT game and one shootout. That's the extent of their dropped points thus far. That's why I worried two periods isn't enough.
While skimming this one after the fact, I got an immediate sense things were different from the tone of the game thread (Thanks everybody for chatting it up: Those threads are fun as they happen, but afterward they're also useful -- and sometimes hilarious -- for me to see people's reactions to events.). Several things to take away from this one, and a few controversial topics to consider:
Scott Gordon: I mentioned "Press, Trap or Die Trying" somewhat tongue-in-cheek; but were the Isles trapping to stave off a Capitals comeback? That was the talk at Japers' Rink. (I'm an anti-trapite, but show me a trap and I'll show you an NHLer who claims that's what every team does to protect the lead. It's probably a matter of degrees.)
Jeff Tambellini: That was one fine tip, sir -- one of four shots on the night. Smart hockey plays eventually breed good results.
The Top Line: In a rarity, they were held scoreless. Tavares and Matt Moulson were on the ice for the OT winner, but hey: Welcome to Mike Green's world. You'll be better prepared next time.
Faceoffs: 46-20 (?!) for 70% success. Tavares: 10-5; Nielsen: 11-6; Park: 15-6; Thompson: 5-0. Second time in three games that the Islanders dominated the faceoff tally. If this becomes a team strength, well that's gonna be a serious feather in the rebuild cap.
Penalty Kill: 4-for-4 plus Radek Martinek's shortie. What more can you ask?
Some positivity, from comments and such:
They’ll learn to hold these leads eventually. Just got beat by a more wiser and experienced team. The worm is gonna turn. Just a matter of time. --Chickendirt
From the other side:
But watching a group of guys bust their humps all night, throw themselves in front of shots, bear down and wins faceoffs, and park themselves in front of the opposing goaltender in the hope that they can eek out a win against a significantly more skilled team...that reminds me of why I fell in love with this game in the first place. Plus, truth be told, it feels pretty darn good to watch your team win against a team like that.
It's going to be a long season for the Islanders and their fans, but if the guys in Uniondale put forth an effort like they did tonight every night, they're going to be a very easy team to pull for.
"We have a lot of respect for that team. They work hard and are extremely well-coached. Teams talk a lot about working hard, but I don't think you can say that for every team in this league. The Islanders do."
Well, on the good nights, yes. And despite the loss which superficially followed a familiar formula, tonight was indeed one of those nights. I'm not going to complain there, given where this team is and what this roster is made of.
Next step: Turning this modest step forward into a vengeance win Monday night in Montreal.