Insert the usual road trip laments here: The Islanders were injury depleted, traveling on back-to-backs -- arguably one of the ten toughest back-to-backs any team has this season -- at the end of a long road trip, facing a team waiting at home all weekend for them ... and the Isles played the part of the lethargic victim. Nothing looked good, Nathan Lawson was generally hung out to dry (although the goal that started it all found a seam under his arm), and the whole team had the skating-in-sand look far too often.
Any modest hope of getting back into the game was quashed by the impressive Corey Crawford, who robbed Blake Comeau and Josh Bailey in close, and stoned Michael Grabner on a breakaway backhand deke (and used a Jedi mind trick to prevent a shot on Grabner's second breakaway).
An interesting side story that would create outrage if it happened to a more prominent team: What the hell was linesman Michel Cormier literally shoving Travis Hamonic away for after Hamonic's aborted confrontation with Bryan Bickell?As our site's chief investigator and Director of the Ministry of Dirty Laundry Quin8722 dug up, Cormier is the linesman at the center of the "Shane Doan uses French slurs" affair. That doesn't really relate to this in serious terms, of course, but it's fun to learn about the linesman who gave Hamonic a two-handed shove back toward the box rather than talk to him like you'd expect an official to do if he's trying to be a helper.
Notes from the Drubbing
About that Schedule: On the Forecheck's Dirk Hoag does an NHL super schedule study each summer showing which teams face the most mileage and most back-to-backs, etc. The Islanders are tied for
second third (behind Buffalo with 22 and Carolina with 21) in the league with the most back-to-backs this year (20) -- that's mitigated somewhat by the Isles' location being travel-friendly. This back-to-back by the Isles was on Dirk's "Top 10 Toughest" list. Pretty big that they got two points in Colorado Saturday night.
Poor Nathan Lawson: He gets yanked in Edmonton after goals on two of the first three shots, then watches Kevin Poulin stay in the game after giving up two of the first three in Colorado, then draws the second and more dangerous team of a back-to-back, where his team looked dead. Again, the first goal squeaked through him and he might have had a shot through the screens and 1-2's on some of the others, but he had no help. 40 saves on 45 shots. Still, to carve out any lasting backup role he'll have to face situations like that. I think it was the right call to give the young rookie the Colorado start.
Poor Michael Grabner: His speed as insightful work gives him scoring chances, but they're not going in at a high rate -- and sometimes I think it looks worse when he's actually created something out of nothing. On his first breakaway, he stripped Jordan Hendry of the puck clean but had two men bearing down on him. He did well to shield the puck with his body, then still pull it to the backhand on Crawford, but Crawford made an oustanding glove save. Then on the second one, Grabner had plenty of time, so he took time to try to make a dynamite move ... and promptly lost the handle on the puck. No shot at all.
Poor Travis Hamonic: Tried to get something going at the end of the second after taking exception to Bickell seconds after the game had become a 5-0 laugher. Instead, the linesman stepped in -- each player received double-minors for roughing -- and he wasn't able to exact his pound of NHL frontier justice flesh. Likewise in the scrum at the end of the game, which brought him and Bickell together again briefly, while Zenon Konopka did his usual pot-stirring when all was long lost and pointless.
Poor Defense: I was shocked to see a shift when the fourth line of Jesse Joensuu, Matt Martin and Konopka was out there with the bottom pairing of Bruno Gervais and Dylan Reese while Marian Hossa and friends hemmed the Isles in their zone in perpetuity. But really every defensive pairing was victimized by the Hossa line tonight. Andrew MacDonald and Hamonic's came on a pretty 3-on-2 between Kane and Jonathan Toews, which must have been on an awkward line change as Josh Bailey, Rob Schremp and Martin were the forwards pursuing too late.
Poor Isles Fans: This was just a stinker, a waste of a Sunday evening. And Hossa was everywhere, setting up multiple chances from virtually every nook of the Isles zone.
Yay, Isles Fans: That said, this road trip turned out much better than
feared expected. To lose Frans Nielsen for three games and never have Radek Martinek back, to see three starts from Lawson and the 20-year-old Poulin, to start in Detroit on New Year's Eve then travel all across the West and finish in two tough cities but come back 3-2 for the trip ... at this point I'll take it.
* * *
Both the crazy powerplay streak (7 of 15 going into this game) and PK streak (none allowed on the trip before this game) both came to a halt, as the Isles were 0 for 1 on the PP and 3 for 4 on the PK.
On a related note, this was the fourth shutout of the season against the Isles. The offense just wasn't coming from anywhere, and on the few occasions it came via counterattack or nice forecheck-induced turnover, Crawford was there.
They're back home, but the Isles face a big test in the visiting Canucks Tuesday night. Time to regroup.
This was supposed to be in the game thread but an SBN gremlin ate it:
After a check of our FIG pick standings (First Islanders Goal), Anarcurt the Seer is in first (3 wins), Cunch Punch the Observant, Hakker the Slacker and IDigRcks the Rick-Digger follow (2 wins each). If you won but think you weren't counted, take it up with management and they will get back to you in 4 to 6 weeks. (Seriously, let me know, although the tie breaker is who was the closest to the correct time. And if you don't leave your pick in the first FIG comment tree of a given preview/game thread, it might get overlooked.
Other winners this season (h/t to ICanSeeForIslesAndIsles):
Alas, no FIG winner tonight.