Saturday night the Islanders won their first shootout of the season, but that will never stop the parlor game of fretting about who should shoot in the post-OT coin-flip. As it turns out, thanks to Al Montoya's three saves on the Minnesota Wild, the Islanders only needed two shooters: John Tavares missed, Frans Nielsen converted, and Kyle Okposo was the unneeded on-deck batter for the bottom of the ninth, as it were.
Certain players excel (Nielsen), certain players struggle (Tavares has never seemed to find a high-percentage approach), and one player many fans will not want to see appears high on the list of career shoots via nhl.com. Full table of Islanders shooters is below, along with some Monday links:
I remember Rolston being one of the few to try -- and convert -- a straight-up slapshot in the shootout. Parenteau has his speed forehand move but is hardly a sure thing. Moulson, too, has shown himself to be able to convert a go-to forehand move but it's one that needs to be perfect to get through.
Okposo won a shootout in Montreal but is not one I'd normally choose; however, the shootout is such a crapshoot that going to KO in front of his parents in Minnesota was not a wrong move: If there is a point along the margins where "crapshoot" meets "good story" meets "focus and momentum," that's as good as any to try it. And Nino may yet be something; he missed his only attempt this season trying to make a bevy of moves, but he has some history in the event from his junior career.
It's interesting that Tavares is a better passer than he was hyped to be at the draft, and not quite the sniper that his reputation carried. His hands are magic, but are not lethal when in tight with the goaltender. I still think he has the capacity to make the right moves in the shootout, but whether he overthinks it or doesn't sell it, etc., he has work to do there.
I know as a fan I pontificate too much against the shootout -- I apologize to the regulars and to the shootout fans -- but it's moments like Patrick Kane the other night that I've always feared about this event. The penalty shot and the implied (but rarely watched) five-second clock always made this more like a clear-cut breakaway. But now the shootout has gradually turned both the post-game breakaway drill and the regular penalty shot into more of a practice trick contest. It's so divorced from gameplay (here I go pontificating again) that rather than make "the most exciting play in hockey" happen more often, I feel like it's neutered "the most exciting play in hockey."
Anyway, the Islanders are sure to end up in more shootouts this year. They need to try to find another go-to guy. What are your proposals there? What advice would you give Tavares or anyone else? And what happened to Brendan Witt?
Islanders, Ex-Islanders & Hockey Links
"...six-game losing streak. It’s incredible to look over the lists and realize that, of the eight longest winless streaks in team history, four of them happened in this calendar year. Brent Thompson said the break couldn’t come at a better time."
He had more in the ConnPost gamer here.
Newsday talked to Kyle Okposo about playing with confidence after his scratch spell a month ago.
Tuesday's opponent welcomed Teemu back to Winnipeg over the weekend. Pretty cool.
Another tough night for D James Wisniewski. He was minus-3 with no shots on goal, and he appeared to get shaken up on a collision with Oshie late in the second period.
Wiz is a team high -- er, low -- minus-17 despite missing the first eight games via suspension.
He Who Shall Not Be Named: Mike Milbury denies assault on child, claims son was bullied - The Boston Globe
He Who Once Won, Then Sent His Son: Steve Tambellini Expects The Oilers To Make The Playoffs, Should He? - The Copper & Blue
Replacement Coach Standings: With all the coaching firings this year, I decided to start tracking how teams are doing after the change. [SB Nation NHL hub]
Your injury of the night: Video: Rene Bourque’s hit from behind injures Brent Seabrook - Puck Daddy
The Avalanche situation -- low payroll, long rebuild, antsy fans -- sounds familiar, although they have a nice building and such. They also have an owner who says this: "I don't want to say it so bluntly that it offends the fans. But they got spoiled the first few years the Avalanche were in town." Nice.
Finally, this was a fantastic read about a famous Montreal columnist who appears to have a major grudge against Theo Fleury.
R.I.P., Vaclav Havel. Seems these characters most often appear in books. But Havel was real.