The young Islanders could have wilted after falling behind 2-0 in the first five minutes this afternoon. They were playing the top-ranked Bruins, on the road, on the first of back-to-back road matinees before a flight to Chicago: The invitation to fold up for the day was there. But the 30th-place play-for-nothings managed to slow Boston's surge and make a game of it, turning play the other way and forcing several big saves out of Tim Thomas.
Mark Streit got the only Islanders goal, on a pretty end-to-end rush that made Zdeno Chara look like the Chara we remember in an Islanders uniform: Imposing yet clumsy. But what struck me about today was Streit's captain-like comment about the team's failure to convert a third-period 5-on-3 and complete the comeback:
"I thought we had a couple of opportunities to shoot the puck. We just didn't execute; some guys were just sleeping," Streit said. "It's a 5-on-3. We just have to execute what we do in practice. We've got to read and react and take advantage of it, and we just didn't do it."
Think Streit was sending a subtle message? The youth-led Islanders have been on a nice run -- so nice it's threatened their once-certain prime lottery position. But with that success can come the feeling of complacency among the kids who are finally in the spotlight: "Yeah, we're good, we're making Coach proud" -- when obviously the big picture of this season is no reason for satisfaction.
So I wonder if Streit had that in mind when he said some guys "were sleeping." Failing to execute what you do in practice sounds like you think things will happen automatically, like when you press the one-timer buttons on your PlayStation. A 5-on-3 is a should score opportunity, but it doesn't happen if you don't put in the work. Frankly, the 5-on-4 to close the second period with Okposo/Bailey/Nielsen/Comeau/Streit was more impressive. On that one they moved the puck with authority.
I suspect Streit was chiding them, in what will be one of many professonal reminders to the young core that is set to lead this club next season.
Began the day four points behind Tampa Bay. As of this posting, Atlanta is trailing at Buffalo tonight; Tampa Bay is at Florida. I'll hope for overtime losses against their opponents -- who I hope push the Rangers out of the playoffs. But Yann Danis once again allowed two goals or fewer, in his unending assault on the Islanders' best lottery chance. Danis' save pct. is now .925 (tied for 2nd in the league, though in only 23 games), and he's allowed more than 2 goals just once in his last 8 games (Doh! That was against the Rags).
Time On Ice Watch
Joel Rechlicz got typical Gordon-enforcer minutes, with 3:35. Thomas Pock was again by far the least-used D-man with 9:19. Streit of course led everyone with 26:22, including 7:18 on the power play. His partner on the PP point, Okposo, had 22:59 and 7:05 on the power play unit. ... Richard Park was a little quiet in his return from the mangled ribs -- but he did pick up a gratuitous second assist on Streit's end-to-end goal. ... Andy Hilbert had a game-high six shots.
Bruins fans reaction over at Stanley Cup of Chowder. ... I had the NESN feed, which gave me the fun of hearing Jack Edwards' use four different pronunciations for Kyle Okposo: "Oh-Poso ... Ahhk-pozo ... Ohk-Poso ... Oh-Pozo." Good times.