When following a struggling team, it's always fun after a big feel-good win like last night's 5-1 drubbing of the Red Wings because the seasonlong self-loathing pauses and people look at some of the things that are right about the team.
Of course another question that comes up is, "Where has that team been all season?" and the answer is in many respects it's been there all along:
The Islanders have had solid, 60-minute efforts. They've had evenings of focus against tough opponents (Note: Not Boston.). Their shot differential is better than teams higher in the standings. Why, they've even managed to score more than two goals some nights!
The difference is their margin of error is thin, a few mistakes can sink them -- a few could have sunk them last night before they got the 2-0 lead -- and thus many nights decent efforts are not rewarded, bad mistakes not forgiven.
Coverage, interviews (so about that timeout, Coach), injury updates, Anton Klementyev and other assorted news from around the league follows:
Last Night and Beyond: Islanders 5, Red Wings 1
- Newsday with the focus on JT and the gang.
- Our SB Nation sibling Winging It In Motown does the wound-licking.
- The Checking Line and Okposo Net cover the Isles side.
- Matt Moulson on reaching 20 goals in 40 games: "It helps when you have two guys who carry you pretty well out there." That's a nice compliment to Mark Eaton right there.
- By the way, on that note Tavares has again taken over the team scoring lead. And while Moulson is on a 40-goal pace, his shooting percentage is now up to 18.5%. Since that's unlikely to stay that high, bet on him falling short of 40 but still having a fine, fine season.
Al Montoya adds his voice [Newsday] to the goalies suggesting maybe opposing forwards shouldn't use them as airbags.
- Injury Updates: Al Montoya and David Ullström. Nothing on Calvin De Haan yet but "didn't sound as optimistic" as last time.
Suspension Update: Michael Fornabaio talks to Garth Snow about Klementyev. There's a great Snow quote in there but I won't ruin it.
- Glenn Healy talks very briefly about Patrick Flatley, who will be honored as part of the 40th anniversary specials.
Who wants an areener? Another developer is in the sights of Ed Mangano. That usually works out so I'm definitely holding my breath here.
[The following videos are at the Isles' MSG highlights page, if you can't watch them here.]
Happy for the "battle level," the top line (of course), the late timeout, the goalie workload and the big early Evgeni Nabokov saves:
Nabokov, Kyle Okposo, Michael Grabner
Nabby: "We showed that we can do it. So now we got to show we can do it on a consistent basis."
NHL Cawfee Tawk
Because you don't read enough of my effluvia: At the network mothership I'm tracking the standings of NHL teams who have fired their coaches: Ken Hitchcock, Darryl Sutter, good. Todd Richards: n/a yet, but he can only go up, right?
Want to see hockey get really stupid and sideshowy? Have a universally intolerable Vancouver columnist bicker with a fairly popular Bruins enforcer and see the awkward turtles crawl all over the road. Moments like these are when I'm glad the ESPN doesn't have NHL rights to amp up the tabloid hype to eleven.
George E. Ays (aka, "Oh, that sensible and sober* Rangers fan guy who is cool, actually") says don't expect the Rangers to fall off a cliff all Wild-like. *Statement has not been verified nor regressed. George is so reasonable, I almost feel kinda bad about how that cheetah is going to tackle and grab Henrik Lundqvist by the knee while he crosses 34th Street like that psychic told me. Almost.
- Keith clipped this one (and many of these, actually) but I couldn't figure out specifically why. Rather than ask him directly, I put it to you, the reader to peer into Keith's head: OHL Network - Suspensions and deadline deals
- Wait, I think I'm sensing the pattern: WHL Network Deadline deals
- Oh look, Steve Ott (who is a tool) got warned for doing something dangerous again.
- In honor of Dustin Penner's pancakes: 10 Craziest All-Time Non-Hockey NHL Injuries - sportsnet.ca
- Interesting points about the inconsistencies in the NHLPA resistance to realignment. I swear the NHL and NHLPA deserve each other.
- Haven't promoted the Hockey in Society blog enough lately. Some fun stuff, including: Brian Burke’s Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and the related Brian Burke Laments Decline of the Enforcer, Fears that "Rats" Will Dominate Hockey: What Does This Tell Us About Hockey Culture?
- Fun memories, but don't dis Jeff Brown, he was awesome and Mrs. Lighthouse had a crush on him: Did You Know? Random, high-scoring defensemen used to be the norm | ProHockeyTalk
- Fun Backhand Shelf hockey talk with Kings goal breakdowns and advice for every rec league winger.
- On that note, breaking down a Capitals powerplay failing.
- More on the ephemeral: Sabermetric Research: Do hockey fights lift a team's performance?
Finally, completely OT but interesting, especially if you like reading Paul Shirley: Warning: May Cause Self-Loathing, by Paul Shirley. I would say I'm blessed with genes predisposed to not reaching that state of the washed-up athlete, of needing external validation to thrive and get by. I feel lucky. Examples of "the best things in life are free (or reasonably priced)" are all around me. If you feel the way Shirley does, please know that counselors can help you process, and please be open to them. For your own good.
(Wow, that last one was way too Oprah-like. So ... Isles won last night, woooooo!)