Canadiens 5*, Islanders 3 (*EN): First egg of the season

This one was not good. But if you watched or skimmed the game thread afterward, you knew that. As was the case in Florida, life shown in the third period could not make up for life left unlived in the first (and tonight, the second too). I'm left with the question: Does the fact another scoreboard looked closer than it should appear signal a team that keeps fighting, or a team that is lucky and/or underperforming regardless of injuries? How about all of the above?

Game Sum | Event Sum | Corsi - H2H | Recaps: NHL - Isles

By discussing the neutral zone play ahead of time, there were signs Scott Gordon -- who has had precious few practices with this team given its road-heavy schedule -- was focused on preparing his team for Jacques Martin's trap tight defense. But this performance was so flawed, I can't say for certain it was their inability to deliver on that preparation or simply the proverbial egg laid by just about every Islander on the night.

Regardless, there appears to be this bizarre impression among the most Debbie Downer of fans that Gordon is incapable of laying into his team, incapable of calling a spade a spade with their performance. A quick viewing or scan of his post-game quotes disproves that. But believe what you will; he's a third-year coach with a mixed-bag roster and the challenge of getting it to point forward. An objective jury remains out for much longer than a poor week in October.

The next exhibit for the jury comes in the rematch Friday night, when the Isles play the 4th home game in their first 13.

Bottom Line: I think it's fair to say this was their worst performance of the season, a true first egg laid even if it didn't result in a blowout. For a first, they were outshot in every period and 35-21 overall. Of course, as Hornick pointed out, this was their fourth first-place opponent in six games, take that as you will.

Game "Highlights" (in the parlance of our times)

Random Notes and Links

  • Hey, Bright Side: Yay for James Wisniewski, whose threatening shot from the point salvaged what were mostly poor powerplays (as Gordon noted). Three points for the Wiz, including an impressive shot of a fluttering puck after Doug Weight's pass was deflected.
  • Hey Cheap Shot: Speaking of the WIz, thankfully he was okay after taking what was at minimum a careless boarding from behind by Travis Moen.
  • Doug Weight: Yeah, despite his goal and assist, he looked like the too-old vet tonight with his turnover that led to the first shorthanded goal against of the season. The yin and yang of Weight at this age is some risk/reward on the powerplay, but also the overall risk of wear and inability to handle so many 5-on-5 minutes.
  • The final minute after the empty-netter, as described to me by WebBard (I quit watching the replay after that), looked heartless. Resignation or something worse?
  • Josh Bailey looked like a guy coming back from a leg injury. Matt Martin looked like a guy excited to be here but in need of some further instruction.
  • In recent games John Tavares has flashed that other nice side to his superb hand-eye coordination: The Art of the Deflection. Bless this post-lockout NHL and the ability to be in front of the net without being completely maimed.
  • Is it a rule that Dwayne Roloson face a motherload of shots, or does it just feel that way? He made some quality saves, stopped some breakaways and even denied a penalty shot. Tomas Plekanec's uncontested shot from the high slot was an unstoppable laser to behold. Truth be told, Carey Price made some good saves even though he wasn't tested often.
  • Congratulations to: Hakker, winner of First Goal Poll, episode II.
  • More recaps: [7th Woman] [Wonce again L.I.] [Point Blank] [Islesblogger on the Nino decision]

Nino Niederreiter: Decision '10

In Scott Gordon's interview, aired on MSG+++++++infinity, he sure aired all of the reasons you would cite if you weren't keeping Nino Niederreiter around. Like:

"It's different [from the Josh Bailey situation] in that we do have some prospects in Bridgeport, like Matt Martin and Jesse Joensuu and Rhett Rakhshani, that are in a position now to get called up," Gordon said. "And then also we have some other players that are part of our organization like Kyle [Okposo] and Rob [Schremp], so it's a different set of circumstances."

The roster/system depth in particular is why I'm not sure in a "win what you can way" if it makes sense to keep him, when there are wingers better prepared to play NHL minutes this year. But this franchise has talked about correcting the "bad habits" forwards insulate in juniors, so in that context is a development question that none of us can answer, no matter how authoritative our statements. I will recall that the youngest Islanders in history is a very young 18 -- i.e. any "bad habits" he keeps this year would be with him at an age when just about every hockey player in the world is doing the same.

Ah well. It sure provides for endless discussion, no? And pining, and whining, and griping...and so on.

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