"Hey, I'm gonna go off for some stitches but I'll be right back and we'll do this some more, okay?"
But if you're going to have a team's number, it sure is fun to have it be 5-0-1 on the Wings, with the dumbfound search for answers it provokes from announcers and players and fans.
That "@#$% we blew it to a team we should've beat!" drill doesn't get old when you're on the happy end.
One thing a 5-1 undressing of the Red Wings does underline: Teams in this league so clearly separate themselves over 82 games, yet on any night if you switch off, or if some bounces go against the norm, you're just a few pivotal moments from it turning into a laugher.
The Islanders clearly opened the game with respect for the Red Wings' threat. They were careful with most pinches, a little too respectful and quick to go into shot-blocking mode in the zone, but quick to pursue the 50/50 pucks rather than get paralyzed by one mistake here, another mistake there.
The Red Wings can make a couple of quick-reaction transition passes to put a team on its heels, and they pulled off a few of those tonight. But even when the Isles allowed that or overplayed a situation or just plain screwed up, the reads by teammates to cover up the mistake were quick and decisive.
Nabokov and some bad Wings shots did the rest until the score got out of hand.
Enjoy these first:
- Nabokov early, especially early in the second period while it was still just 1-0.
- The first powerplay and the first penalty kill, which allowed the Islanders to exit the first up 1-0 instead of tied or down. On said powerplay, the puck movement was excellent, Matt Moulson's pass for Tavares in the doorstep drawing Drew Miller's attention -- and his skate to bump the puck in for Moulson.
- Tavares starting the play on his goal with a quick pass from behind the goal line, then catching up to Kyle Okposo who made a nice drop, then Moulson, Travis Hamonic and the gang rushing the net providing the perfect screen and distraction for a perfect far post Tavares shot.
- Tavares again, setting up Okposo who sprinted to the opening and beat Ty Conklin glove side.
- Michael Grabner with a couple of breakaways, converting the one fed by Matt Martin, high wrister over Conklin's stick side.
- Mark Streit's patience throughout the game with the puck, especially with the lead, and especially when he held up, drew his checkers into passive shot-blocking no-man's land, spotted Moulson's wave of the stick and sent it to Moulson for a very nice deflection on the Isles' fifth and final goal.
Moments When This Still Could Have Gotten Scary:
- When John Tavares took a puck-on-side-and-flipping Niklas Kronwall dump right in the face. He didn't go down to his knees the way some do, but he did go straight to the locker room for repairs. Once again, he was quickly rebuilt.
- When P.A. Parenteau turned it over on the powerplay, creating a near 2-on-0 that Nabokov, poor Wings finishing and sprinting Islanders backcheckers combined to thwart.
- When Valtteri Filppula inexplicably missing a wide-open net that at least would have made things interesting.
- When Nabokov was forced to make sprawling desperation saves early in the first. HIs paddle, his glove, I don't know it looked like a yard sale but it worked.
- When Jack Capuano called timeout on an icing (
right? edit: Right.) with 22 seconds left in a 5-1 game. No idea what it was about[Edit: Indeed, Capuano said it was because of the icing, with first line fatigued and where injuries happen], but Mike Babcock's fuming reaction was pretty funny (as was the Wings announcers', who almost went to commercial break out of anger or something). It's nice to play a team that won't goon it up just because they're being trounced 5-1, so I hate to look a gifthorse in the mouth. But my bet would be there was some reason, however odd, for the timeout. It's just 30 seconds of down time, in any case. No one's pride pants should be in a bunch.
Other Notes from Giddy Time:
I personally like the concept of a "coefficient of drag" for a partner that Mark Streit has to carry. And tonight Milan Jurcina was back with Streit (three assists, two at EV), where it again looked like Jurcina's drag was much lower than that of Steve Staios. Who knows, it's just one game again, but Streit-Jurcina always looks better to me than Streit-Staios.
Shots ended up 30-24 for the Isles over the Wings. Not sure how often we'll see that. (I guess once a year works, eh?)
Alternate headline: We Have Nabokov, And You Don't.
Alternate-alternate: Islanders vs. Red Wings: Destruction Is Assured.
Seriously, I don't know what this was all about but I'll take it. For the Wings: End of their road trip, let down after an emotional game with the Central rival Hawks, lack of focus, no Pavol Datsyuk, whatever. For the Isles: Heightened focus for a dominant opponent, anger at blowing their recent road trip, "increased our battle level," whatever.
I'll take it.