Of course Marty Reasoner's detractors will say there is little to miss with his absence due to a broken hand last night: He has just five assists in 35 games, is tied with Kyle Okposo and Milan Jurcina for the team low minus-16 in 11:17 per game. However, missing a competent fourth-line center actually is a loss, particularly without an immediate replacement.
Reasoner was the team's top faceoff man at 54%, logged 1:28 of PK duty per game, and when a team is carrying teenage intern Nino Niederreiter and AHL lifer Tim Wallace, it's preferred to have a center who can skate and knows his way around both zones. Jay Pandolfo, activated off IR, is not as good a skater and not quite a center, although he can play one on TV, I suppose.
If I'm Dave Tippett, I'm eagerly watching for moments to prey on that combo should Jack Capuano put them out together. Last night Niederreiter and Wallace only got a handful of shifts after Reasoner's injury, but with this being a road back-to-back he might want to be able to use the whole bench, depending on how the game and special teams opportunities develop. I'd expect Pandolfo will get his share of PK time.
As for beyond tonight, Brian Compton of nhl.com voices what many fans are thinking (including myself):
Pandolfo, Wallace, Rolston ... none are long-term solutions at center. Cizikas should be called up for homestand next week
For the Coyotes, Adrian Aucoin is still out with an eye injury but not a concussion. Once upon a time you'd never have dreamed the former would be a relief vs. the latter. The Coyotes are in 11th in the West, but it's a tight bubble (they're four points out of 7th) and they are always well coached by Tippett.
With all the ownership and venue turmoil Islanders fans have faced for the last 20+ years, you have to feel for Coyotes fans, whose situation looks like the Island ca. 1999. The players are gamely playing out the season, but each day brings conflicting reports in a drama that has extended for three seasons now or -- like the Islanders -- far longer, depending on which regime you place the benchmark. At 11,423 they are one of two teams (Dallas is the other, but they're recovering) with a lower average home attendance than the Islanders.
They have the building, but it's in the wrong place and they have no owner. We have an owner, but no building and perhaps no place for a new one.
NHL Realignment Postponed: League, NHLPA Preview Next 12 Months of Bullshit
Watching the league and union is like watching those two friends who are fun to hang with individually but who make an absolute melodramatic disaster as a boyfriend and girlfriend. They turn everything into an ordeal, even when obvious reasonable solutions are plain as day to outsiders. I never figured either would be stupid enough to create another work stoppage, but they're off to a helluva start to 2012. And sometimes stubbornness creates stupidity.
Speaking of melodrama, I sometimes wonder -- without hyperbole -- if 2012 will be the last year I watch pro hockey. Reactions:
- Several reactions from players and Mark Chipman, whose Jets he kind of hoped wouldn't be stuck in the Southeast.
- Travis Hughes calls the travel excuse rather silly.
- Player reactions via ESPN.
- Yahoo calls it the first exchange in the looming war.
At Least We Still Have Violence
If you haven't already, leave your First Islanders Goal picks in this thread.