It's funny: I had a game to play of my own last night and had to leave late in what was to that point a yawner of a first period -- right after Lee Stempniak opened scoring at 17:27. Bad timing. Turns out, I missed Kyle Okposo scoring (on one of his 8 shots) just 15 seconds later -- and then Blake Comeau just 45 seconds after that.
Had I held out just a little bit longer (and been late to my game), I'd have caught the only excitement of the night other than Ron Wilson's hilarious confrontation with Howard Berger-- ... wait, WHAT?!? Bruno Gervais picked up a fighting major?? Against Lee Stempniak?? Hang on, I gotta run to my DVR for that... [Gervais-Stempniak video here]
[Returns from watching fight] Ha, wow! Stempniak is a former Blue, and Gervais is Gervais, so I've followed a good deal of both of their careers. I must say I've never seen such aggression from either of them, which made for an entertaining fight -- the second in Stempniak's career. Stempniak's response was warranted -- Gervais's push just before it absolutely flattened Stempniak face-first into the boards. At the same time, Gervais is such a lightweight, I can see why he was stunned that a simple one-armed shove -- by his arm, mind you -- could have caused such a violent result. Gervais put his arms out as if to say, "What? How am I supposed to know you're that easy to knock over?"
Meanwhile, we were talking about the road and injuries inevitably slowing down the Islanders' winning form and easing lottery-blowing fears, and sure enough, the power play went cold, they lost in OT, and it looked like Sean Bergenheim wrenched his groin something fierce late in the third. Just what he needs, right as he was showing the form we'd always hoped he had.
The Goals: More Youth in Action
First, great to see the formula for success: Bergenheim using his speed down the wing to set it up, while Okposo drives to the net to bang in a goal. But my god what was Boyd Devereaux doing on that goal? He seemed to be Okposo's pace car, just leading him to the net and then kindly getting out of the way when the time came for Okposo to shoot. "Okay, I got you here -- you take it from here."
Then Comeau's goal -- oh the comedy. A broken clear near the blueline, and Comeau swats at a bouncing puck, while Mike Iggulden (another assist!) provides a nominal screen as Martin Gerber waves at it. Gerber, who sadly has stopped wearing his Senators mask, looked on that play like his current reputation is earned.
(Aside: I recorded the Toronto Leafs TV feed, and they were doing a PSA while Okposo's goal was scored, and their live camera completely missed Comeau's. An ugly minute in TV broadcasting.)
Tales of the Tank
But I have a quibble with the Islanders: Last weekend's goalfest over New Jersey and Phoenix was nice ... but wouldn't we all have traded both for a severe beatdown on the Rangers earlier in the week? Or even save the regulation win for Toronto? Instead, they took a loser point to move closer to Tampa Bay and they conceded two points to Toronto, who they'd rather not help.
You see, Toronto is a little too far ahead to be a Tavares threat. But we have their second-round pick from the Schenn/Bailey pick maneuver. So we want them to finish as low as possible. The lower they finish, the higher their 2nd pick. The higher their 2nd pick, the closer it is to both our 2nd and San Jose's 1st, which we also own through the Campoli trade. The closer those picks are together, the more flexibility we have to package those picks for an upgrade or whatever egg rolls Garth wants on Draft Day, and the better they can feel that such a deal won't cost them whatever player they'll be targeting in the early 30s.
Anyway, again tonight and on the overtime goal, Joey MacDonald's rebounds undermined his strong positioning and first saves -- this time, the Leafs announcers were noticing this. I'm going to try to look back at his hot November and see what I find compared to now (The answer may simply be the necessary luck of a hot streak: He hasn't been bad lately, he's just had some holes). But anyone who's watched the last several weeks would conclude that, if it's tanking Islanders fans want, their chances are better with Joey Mac in goal.
In the competition for who the Isles should re-sign this summer (if it's even an either/or), Yann Danis is widening his lead.