The Senators, having clinched a playoff berth without a great chance of improving it, looked hungover. The Islanders, playing out the pressure-free dog days of the season, looked like they were just having a fun, loose scrimmage.
Occasionally ashamed of their effort, various Senators tried the proverbial "spark" by starting scrums. Matt Carkner bled a lot.
Nick Foligno found cause to fight Sean Bergenheim. Andy Sutton lost his head -- first at Jon Sim, then at Frans NIelsen (wait...at Frans Nielsen?!) -- no doubt preferring an early shower and exit to avoid any ribbing from the Isles friends and ex-teammates who worked alongside him
while he rehabbed pulling in $3 million per the last three years.
With the game out of reach, Jarkko Ruutu again proved himself the biggest tool in all the land [Objection! Your Honor, Avery objects!*] by attacking three different Islanders who have a combined total of 68 PIM on the season. In hockey, of course, this congenital invisible-spine condition classifies you as "an agitator." In life, it makes everyone hope you get mauled by a dog.
*Okay fine. Ruutu is the biggest Finnish tool. Happy, Sean?
But this being a loose end-of-season game, at least the Isles put on a show for the home fans. Though it may only serve as a stat-stuffer for us to one day look back fondly on this season of Rebuild, Volume II, there were nonetheless several nice plays by the Islanders skaters, plus a fundamentally sound effort in goal by Martin Biron.
About Those Nice Plays
- Goal 1: After Kyle Okposo's stretch pass, Blake Comeau made a stunning (for him) lateral move at the blueline to both get the Senators defense reaching for the pokecheck and to create an odd-man rush with John Tavares. Freddy Meyer rushed the net to draw the defense, opening up Tavares in the slot for a nicely placed gloveside finish.
- Goal 2: Richard Park took his turn making a great blueline play, curling toward the boards, then slipping a pass to a rushing Dylan Reese, who picked up his second NHL goal.
- Goal 3:With the Islanders fourth line outworking several heralded Senators, Jack Hillen weaved in, out, back, and over to unleash his shot from the high slot, with Richard Park providing an effective screen. It was Hillen's first goal since returning from the Alex Ovechkin shot to the face, and it was another display of Hillen's silky smooth skating.
Goal 4: Blake Comeau fired the puck at the net -- that's good, he has learned -- and Tavares made one of his subtle nice-hands taps to pass the puck behind him to Bergenheim, who could not miss an open net from that distance.
Bizarre Visiting Announcer Line of the Day
"He's tied up with Neil and Carkner, and those are bad odds for the youngster, Gillies."
Tell it to the blood streaming out of Carkner's dome. Trevor Gillies is 31. And while Carkner is fierce, Gillies is downright crazy and clearly searching, in his seven shifts, for exactly such odds.
This and That
I'm happy to see more of this Reese fellow, who was paired mostly with Freddy Meyer IV, the Sutton Jr. crusher. Not just Reese's bit of offensive punch, but his defensive instincts seem solid. There are mixed opinions about the wisdom of Garth Snow leaving this team so thin on defense after dealing Sutton -- personally, I was more upset about the blueline decisions last summer, and more resigned at the deadline -- but grabbing Reese just before trading Sutton was a nice re-allocation of your minor league assets. I don't really have any big hopes for Reese, but I prefer this way of finding out to guessing at reports from Bridgeport.
- This isn't in the video above, but Sutton's fit involved high-sticking Sim -- hey, I can see that being called for from time to time -- in a tussle in front of the Sens net, and then, as he was being escorted off, randomly grabbing Frans Nielsen (wait...Nielsen again?) and putting Frans in a headlock. I don't get it either. I guess the Sens just don't dig unsung, diligent backchecking Danes. Sutton was tossed for four minutes plus a 10-minute misconduct.
- In all honesty, I assume all that nonsense was just the Senators trying to show a pulse in the middle of a derelict performance. The ways they chose to show it are a product of frustration and, I'm sure, a reflection of Ruutu's inherent cowardly nature.
- With Tavares' two points (49), he moves up to one goal and four points behind Colorado's Matt Duchene (53), who himself has four assists in his last five games. Interesting. When it's all over, both of these kids will have had fine rookie seasons, and the Calder will go to someone from a previous draft class.
- I love blowouts: Just like the laugher over the Flyers, the score allowed Scott Gordon to balance ice time much more. Team leader Mark Streit logged "only" 23:29.
This win puts the Isles five points clear of Toronto (71), two points over the two Florida teams (74 each), tied with Carolina (76) and one point behind Columbus (77). But the Leafs, Panthers, Hurricanes and Blue Jackets all play tonight.
By the time you read this, more lottery teams may have stunned more already clinched or fast-choking bubble teams. It's that time of year.