Poll: Islanders vs. Jets Man of the Match

Which Kyle Okposo is this now? - Marianne Helm

In hockey they have "three stars of the game," in soccer you'll often hear of one "man of the match." We don't want to hold ourselves to any specific number, but we do want to provide a forum to pick your standouts of a given game. This feature will appear...when we feel like it.

Saturday's shootout win in Winnipeg was messier than we'd prefer -- oh, how expectations change standards -- but the Islanders still did many, many good things in grabbing their leads and nearly closing the game out in regulation.

It was also a fun game for our "Man of the Match"-style poll, because several players had performances of note. Among them:

Evgeni Nabokov let in four goals, but I actually thought he was impressive on the Jets' many net-front scrambles throughout the game, where he was forced to track the puck or locate it in traffic. Not Man of the Match level, but certainly "better than four goals against would indicate" in my book. Probably luckier than good in the shootout though.

John Tavares came up empty on his six shots and was on for two EV goals against, but his shootout conversion did seal the second point in the NHL's "The People Demand a Winner" regime.

Josh Bailey kept rolling with another goal, his 10th of the season, and really any member of that hot line could make good candidates for this game's honor.

On that note, Kyle Okposo made excellent, heads-up primary assists on both Bailey's and Frans Nielsen's goal, apparently was ready to get into a playoff-style rage fight with Zach Bagosian, and won 80% of his faceoffs (8-2). (He also had a toe-drag with the game on the line that almost worked!) Bogosian clearly thought Okposo's shoulder hit on him in the corner was dirty, but my Isles-tinted lens found it to be a battling hit that Bogosian would do any day of the week.

The third and fourth liners got basically 10 minutes each, with a mix of good and bad but a pleasing effort overall (including a goal from each line).

Thomas Hickey and Lubomir Visnovsky, frequent candidates as an effective D pair in recent games, had uncharacteristic stretches (the play on Kyle Wellwood's breakaway goal, Lubo's penalty with two minutes left) that would take them out of consideration, but we at least have to nod to Hickey's excellent thundering hit on Evander Kane. He didn't just rub Kane out, he planted him on his Avery. The more Hickey seizes opportunities to announce himself like that, the less opponents will assume they can win via the size mismatch.

Anyway, this category of post is for yet one more rehashing of the game, as well as a chance to invite your vote for the award and your open comments on any standout performances you noticed. Have at it.

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