The Islanders finished 2011 on a high note and have an opportunity to extend that happiness into 2012, but let's remember that, like Tuesday's opponent the Hurricanes, the recently felled Oilers and Flames are not so good.
The Oilers have been erasing a feel-good start for the last 60 days and now have but one more standings point (in 37 games played) than the Islanders, who have played 36. The Flames recently flirted with seventh place in the West but after a whopping 40 games they have just 41 points, good enough for 12th in that conference. Their ugly road trip continued with a loss in Nashville Sunday night, the NHL's only New Year's Day game.
Of course, for sore eyes who saw the Isles lose twice to the Rangers around Christmas, the quality of the Albertan opponents does not dilute the joy beating them. So here are some fun selections from the happy post-game interviews:
On the late Andy Sutton hit, and refs calling (and not calling) such plays. Tavares is carrying a steady confidence and clarity in his post-game remarks lately that mirrors how he's driving the team. Now, when the time comes that more good players join him...
On the key to the two home wins (his playlist, obviously) and on resisting Ben Eager's tempting invitation to be with stupid. Dare we say, Matt Martin gets it:
Jeff Spicoli on receiving that fantastic spin pass from John Tavares:
Bonus Video: Part 5 of the Ken Morrow Series
In which Morrow talks about being here so long, and about what he talked about with Garth Snow when Snow was named GM:
Bonus Discussion Topics
Finally, some bonus topics for the NHL, the Winter Classic, and relating them to the Islanders:
- The Blue Jackets -- who just lost another one and had their coach come out looking silly -- finally sound ready to make major moves. Resume thy coveting of thy neighbor's goods.
- So it sure sounds like Robin Lehner has some growing up to do. He left his crease to create a goalie fight without a partner, then got into a physical tussle with the linesmen. Remember this is the same kid who leveled Kevin Poulin between periods last season ... and Poulin went down awkwardly on his left knee, then dislocated that knee during warmups of the next game. (Keith deserves the credit for pointing out that coincidence.)
- I loved Bernie Parent getting some ice time during the Winter Classic alumni game, and I loved his interview even more. Almost thought he was going to have a Joe Namath moment there.
- Brooksie writes a commercial for Mark Messier's helmet.
- We got ourselves a racial situation with Krys Barch, alleged to have slurred P.K. Subban.
If you missed the memo, today's Winter Classic start time has been pushed back two hours, to 3 p.m. EST. Great Apollo, the sun was the concern.