That win streak sure was fun, wasn't it? Ah, memories. Four days after being knocked from the game by an Islanders Tambellini Special, Ryan Miller turned the tables and shutout the Islanders. Taking nothing away from Miller here, but he didn't have to work for it the way Martin Biron did in the first period on Halloween.
These games happen -- perhaps it's a good dose of humble pie -- but the Islanders from minute one never looked like they had it. It wasn't Montreal bad by any stretch, but they were flat from the start, and Biron gave them every chance to find their groove. Unlike other recent games with flat starts, tonight they never found it. Final shots: 39-24.
Of note right away was the sluggishness of the Kyle Okposo/John Tavares/Matt Moulson line. When Okposo is taking a frustration obstruction penalty, you know something's off. When Jon Sim follows it up with one of his own, you know it's going to be an uphill kind of night. (Meanwhile, Jeff Tambellini/Josh Bailey/Doug Weight probably showed the most life, with nothing to show for it.)
Could Tavares be going through his first rookie-year lull? It's possible. We'd be wise to expect it, anyway. I don't necessarily expect it this soon, but he has been going non-stop with commitments since June. And as he's learning, you're never really fully prepared for the every-game pounding the NHL inflicts on a body. And first-line center minutes is a lot to ask of a kid all year long. Which is why, I presume, Gordon held Tavares's minutes back tonight (15:54). Weight (19:51) and Bailey (18:55) each saw more.
Two theories expressed in the game thread are worth mulling over. Check those and video (if you must torture yourself) after the jump.
Theory 1: They were out of gas. While the Islanders kept up their busy schedule and handled Edmonton at home Monday, Buffalo went out and worked on their game, and recuperated. If the gassed theory is the case, that doesn't bode well for back-to-backs with New Jersey and Atlanta this Friday and Saturday.
Theory 2: Element of surprise is gone. Did the Sabres, having seen how the Islanders can take a team apart when their on, make the right adjustments to keep the Isles from ever getting on track? Perhaps more interesting from this line is thought is how we can watch other teams when they play the Isles after losing to them previously. We'll get that chance next week with Washington.
This game wasn't much to write about, but those theories are worth mulling over.
Meanwhile, one parting thought: Patrick Kaleta is some kind of idiot. Or more precisely, Kaleta should probably learn how to take a hit and how to give payback within the game. Lucky for him, the Islanders' powerplay had nothing tonight. So his reaction to being hit by Jack Hillen by throwing a late, petulant hit on Frans Nielsen -- and driving him into Biron -- was, well, it was a fine display of stupidity. Then stirring it up with Tim Jackman and Nate Thompson in the game's dying seconds? Well, I suppose somewhere in his head, he proved something. Must be a fun world.