Oh, it all just felt like a long, cold, dark walk in the snow.
*But not the kind of blood you expect from a rivalry. No, this was just old-fashioned whoopin' blood. Landslide blood. Some bounces (for both sides) and some exciting play from the Josh Bailey - Frans Nielsen - Michael Grabner line kept it interesting (and 2-2) during the first period. Then the gates opened, with Dwayne Roloson -- last week's NHL "First Star" -- helping wave the flood through.
Wanna know how ugly it got? The Islanders were outshot 52-20 despite trailing for the second half of the game. They were outshot 34-8 in the final two periods. Aside from the aforementioned line who forced turnovers and scoring chances in multiple periods, there was enough lifeless play to make a "this is why you're last!" tape. But chicken or egg? Matt Gilroy's second goal was a deflected knuckler Roloson did not pick up but should have. That made it 3-2 at 12:08 of the second. While it remained close until six minutes later when Bryan Boyle made it 4-2, you never got the feeling the Isles would make a comeback attempt. The third period became a formality, underlined by a rollover.
To be fair, Henrik Lundqvist, despite the ugly first Isles goal, made some big saves to keep it level in the first half of the game. As we've seen with Roloson during the win streak, those are the saves you need to give your team the chance to cash in later on.
Bits of Angst and Anguish
- Rob Schremp Hockey scored his 7th of the season to tie it at 1-1 early, and this fluttering shot made Henrik Lundqvist look worse than Roloson looked on the previous goal, which Schremp appeared to deflect past Rollie.
- P.A. Parenteau's goal -- again against his former team -- was funny: 2-on-2, he made a backhanded move/pass attempt that faltered, but put the puck back to him and then forward to Matt Moulson. End result: Easy tap-in rebound for PAP. Hey, if you're not trying, you don't pick up the freebies.
- I was all set to rant about Zenon Konopka, whose line was overmatched every time it hit the ice, when he cleared the puck over the glass despite being under no pressure and with plenty of time. Then Parenteau -- known as a nifty stickhandler and hands guy -- did the same later on in the game. I guess sometimes it just happens and it has nothing to do with confirming your simmering biases.
- Roloson's night officially went from "tough bounces but a lot of good saves" to "laugher, ugliness" on the 7th goal, when Derek Stepan's powerplay one-timer from the spot hit Roloson's leg pad...and simply bounced over it, falling softly into the net.
- Blake Comeau did some good things, he did some curious things (including another classic, "Here, now that I've gained the zone deep, let me clear it for you" play). So it goes.
- Nielsen left the ice late in the third after a stick broke in half on a point shot and hit him in the face on the follow through. Probably routine "hockey player" facial repairs.
- That's not fair to call out any single players though, really. This was a communal effort of failure, a group zeitgeist betraying ennui. On the backline, the Isles best D-men lately (Andrew MacDonald and Travis Hamonic) did not have great games, and everyone below them looked even worse. Hamonic bears watching, because some of the youthful energy with which he attacked everything at the beginning of his call up could be in danger of wearing off amid the grind of an NHL season.
We'll see. It's fool's pursuit to read too much into any single game -- not to mention any 4-0-1 streak, or 6-game skid, or beyond. This one goes to the discard pile, to be unearthed for reference later as needed. Like when we think about how after four games, at 3-0-1 the Rangers have already clinched the season series.
The little win burst is over, it ended against the worst possible opponent, and the final two games of 2010 are against two pretty imposing opponents.
P.S. Cheers to the LHH game threaders for handling the troll well. Opposing fans are generally welcome here for discussion, but obviously patience wears thin quickly when a visitor is just looking to be fed. Don't have the time, don't have the patience to babysit, so good on everyone for identifying the schtick and moving on.