Islanders Matinee: Blues, Isles know injuries

[Updated by Keith @ 12:30 with Strang article and audio of Garth Snow's reaction to the Gillies suspension]      

Stop me if you've heard this one before, you fans of an Islanders team that leads the league in man-games lost to injury, a team that lost two of its best players to IR before the first puck dropped on 2010-11: The Blues were going to be something this season, before critical injuries got in the way.

Blues-patch1_medium                    Nyi-y_medium
Blues (28-27-9, 13th/W) @ Islanders (24-32-9, 14th/E)
Nassau [
gloriously unsponsored] Veterans Mem. Coliseum
1 p.m. EST | MSG+ |
audio - WRHU 88.7
Fairly familiar with the Clutter-act:
St. Louis Game Time

They started this season 9-1-2, their young talent taking another step forward, a long rebuild about to pay off. But on Oct. 23, their underrated shutdown defensman Roman Polak -- he's like the Frans Nielsen of their blueline, except a physical beast who can benchpress Škodas -- took a fluke Sidney Crosby skate blade to his forearm, slicing it and sending him to IR for two months. Three games later, Joe Thornton left the penalty box and blindsided bright young Blues forward David Perron (5 goals in 10 games) in the head. Perron returned to score a goal in the win, but hasn't played since thanks to the concussion. Thornton got two games.

A few nights later, in a scrum at the end of blowout loss in Columbus, top-line forward T.J. Oshie's ankle broke in a fluke similar to how Taylor Hall's season ended the other night. A month after that, at the beginning of December with both Oshie and Perron (Polak too) still out, the Blues forward corps took another hit when Andy McDonald blew a tire in OT, stumbled forward, and got a concussion falling into the skate of an Oiler. (Seriously, you can look it up.) The Oilers went the other way on the play, Hall scoring the OT winner. McDonald missed two months.

Just like the Islanders should have been a season-long bubble-chaser team this year, the Blues should have been a playoff team. Granted, even with Oshie, McDonald and Polak back, the Blues have still had their struggles -- losing six of seven -- which is why they really don't have a hope of climbing back in the hypercompetitive West. But if they don't take that unreal 1-2-3-4 hit beginning in October and lasting through February (or March, counting Perron), then it's a different equation today.

The point is, injuries "aren't an excuse" -- except really, honestly, they are. Sure, you need depth in this league to survive them (or in Philadelphia's case, depth and absolutely no fear of age/cap issues in a few years). Each of these teams is still building that depth so they don't have much margin of error. But even the deepest teams are going to have trouble doing anything better than tread water when multiple injuries hit their top players at each position. So it goes with the Islanders and Blues

For regular readers who know my father led me as a young'n to follow both teams, this is why I'd sometimes look at my dad and think: What the hell have you done to me?

It's been easy to let my fandom for each of these teams deepen without conflict of interest or cognitive dissonance: They rarely play each other to begin with, they have a bunch of shared players in their history, and they've never really fought for the same stakes except for 1980-81, when they finished 1-2 in the league standings and I was too young to know any better. One consequence of all that though: They've each spent the past 20-plus years trying to build up my hopes, only to bludgeon my soul by April. I may have Stockholm Syndrome.

Notes

Better Reading/Viewing through FanShots: Awesome quick TSN interview with Bob Bourne. Guess who he hated more than the Rangers? | NHL.com knows Frans | If you haven't read it yet -- or even if you have -- JPinVA's "10 Reasons to be an Islanders Fan Right NOW" FanPost is a cathartic release.

Speaking of which, after the last few days of Gillies exhaustion and trolls, I'm looking forward to some hockey again. Even if this matchup tends to tear my heart asunder. Let's go hockey.

 

FIG Picks

Just like last game, enter your FIG (First Islanders Goal) pick in this FanShot, and not in this thread. We're trying this method out to see if that's how we want to do next season. (By the way, in terms of FanShots and FanPosts and such, you can set in your account preferences how many of either you see on your front page.)

P.S. Per matinee tradition, consider this your dueal game preview and in-game thread.

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