You know how we worry about the "Ranger hangover"? The phenomenon where the Islanders follow up a big, emotional night against their biggest rival by laying an egg in the next game? If you want to contrive a scenario where the Sens lay an egg tonight, suppose you diagnose them with a little Leafs hangover. Maybe they'll even resign to their excitement to "watch" John Tavares.
They squeezed out a big win in Toronto Tuesday. (Well, for many Leafs fans the credit always goes to Kerry Fraser. Ah, rivalries: They bring out the tinfoil hat in you!). Of course, such hangover theories are in the eye of the beholder: The Senators were 2-2-1 last year in games after facing the Leafs, hardly an argument that hangover mitigation of Sprite and crackers is needed. Since we're reaching, though: one of those regulation losses came at the hands of the Islanders ("The Freddy Meyer Game") two days after an emotional Sens shootout win over the Leafs.
Regardless, at least the Senators' hex over the Islanders (10-1-1 before 2008-09) is over. By defeating the Sens three times in November 2008, the Isles put an end to that. The fourth 2008-09 matchup was a Tank for Tavares beatdown in March ... but hey, we got Tavares! So it was really a victory, wasn't it?As discussed thoroughly yesterday, this is indeed the debut of Rob Schremp (and also Martin Biron, according to Strang). The official site even lists the lines we discussed yesterday, with Jeff Tambellini taking a seat upstairs.
The diary of impressions on why Schremp never made it with the Oil is lengthy. But what we haven't really heard is what Scott Gordon has thought of him in practice thus far to "earn" an appearance so soon. Not to repeat yesterday's debate, but have the Islanders, at long last, decided Tambellini is not a long-term top-six forward? Or has this season's Tambellini experiment -- its final year, surely -- become a "Tambellini or Schremp?" experiment, so they're intent to test each?
Tthough I didn't expect Schremp to get a shot so soon (and at Tambellini's expense before Tamby did anything wrong), I confess I'm excited to watch how this all plays out. We know that Schremp is at least trying to say the right things, repeat the principles Gordon is no doubt trying to drill into his head:
"People say that I'm a skilled player, but I can't just go out there and make hope plays. I've got to play with purpose and execute. The negatives can't outweigh the positives."
You're damned right. Hopefully playing with the responsible Josh Bailey and Trent Hunter cuts down on the negatives. In the end, though, I bet Schremp's make-or-break test will be whether he makes the 2nd PP unit go without making the 2nd 5-on-5 line bleed goals against.
The Campoli Question
Tonight we see old friend Chris Campoli, the 7th-round pick who made something of himself on the Island. Of course, with the arrival of Mark Streit and Doug Weight as the first PP pointmen, Campoli didn't get the offensive prominence he wanted, and who knows what else ailed him. I'd venture we saw plenty of Campoli to know he wasn't the long-term answer. But his request for a trade made that decision easy for the Isles, and an extra 1st-round pick came along. I'm looking forward to seeing how he's doing, particularly with Filip Kuba out. He's logged 5:04 of PP time (total) in the first two games.
About that pick: Chris Botta yesterday again tallied up the cost of Calvin de Haan -- the junior D-man who turned heads all preseason -- as Campoli, a 2nd, two 3rds and a 4th. Regarding whether the Islanders needed to move up twice to secure de Haan, who was rated lower in pre-draft rankings, Botta says he "knows" Minnesota didn't want de Haan because a Wild scout told him so. All due respect to Botta and his sources, but I wouldn't trust a scout telling me that even if it was my own mother. Not only are hockey people loathe to tell you they got burned (particularly if you're all but guaranteed to publish that info), but scouts also represent just one view among several within an organization -- so even if one thinks his team wasn't going one direction, you don't know where the final decision was going.
Which is a long way of saying you never know what another team is doing, so if you see a player you know you want and you have the bullets to get him -- you go and do it. The de Haan move was a perfect example of why you accumulate picks. De Haan is better than a 2nd, two 3rd, even a 4th. The "crapshoot quotient" on picks only increases as you go deeper in the draft. So when you're in a position of strength (multiple picks in multiple rounds), you take advantage of teams who are lacking picks and are thinking they at least better come home to their boss with some kicks at the can, even if those kicks are just your excess picks.
[Update: I should have added originally that we don't even know 100% that the Islanders were targeting de Haan. That's what they say. That's what they indicated. But would they come out and tell us (or any insider) that they traded up twice and still didn't get the guy they wanted? I don't think so.]
The concept of a "reach" in the draft is a slippery slope, because a player is only a reach until some other team "reaches" to take him out from under you. It's all part of the game. There's a reason teams don't go blabbing about their draft wish list.
So yeah, we won't know how it all works out until de Haan makes it or one of those 3rd or the 4th turns into some kind of Zetterberg. But from all accounts so far, de Haan sure looks like a gem, so I'm not losing sleep over the gamble.