The New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils played a sleepy penultimate game for their seasons, with some suspicion that it could be Martin Bordeur's last start as a Devil and perhaps as an NHLer. If it was any of those, it did not end well.
Continuing the Devils' nightmare, the game went to yet another shootout, where the Devils lost yet another breakaway drill (that's 0-13 on the season), and did so while watching Josh Bailey and Ryan Strome essentially troll the elder Brodeur. Both forwards tried the dreaded and controversial (but clearly NHL-approved) spinorama move, each beating him to make the Isles 3-for-3 after Frans Nielsen a opened it with a five-hole conversion.
So the record has it a victory of 3-2 for the Isles, with one ticked off Brodeur as his career winds down. The Isles did it yet again by outplaying a team despite a lineup littered with rookies and callups, including what is essentially two fourth lines.
That all happened after the Isles mostly wasted an overtime power play, being a little too slow to shoot and a little too passive with Devils attempts to win the battles. They started with four forwards (Brock Nelson, Frans Nielsen, Ryan Strome, Anders Lee, with Nielsen up top) and later put Matt Donovan in. Brodeur made once nice glove save on a Josh Bailey slapper, but that was the closest threats.
And those overtime shenanigans happened after the Isles played a really poor first period (down 2-1, outshot 13-4, but scoring first when Anders Lee beat Brodeur on a 2-on-1) to play far better for the rest of the game, and ultimately tie the game via Strome in the opening minute of the third.
Marty Seems Mad, Bro
I really hate that spin-and-stop shootout move that Josh Bailey used (it just takes the silly shootout, which I obviously hate, to its ridiculous laboratory extreme), but that doesn't mean a petulant Brodeur needs to fire the puck at Bailey afterward. Classy.
... which made it altogether fitting and appropriate for Strome to come at him with the exact same move from the other side. Don't like the spinorama? Take it up with the league.
Supposedly Brodeur stared the Isles bench down as he left the ice, which is also funny. Then the Devils broadcast, perhaps upset that THE LEGEND couldn't go out with something more poetic, got all bothered about it. The time for being bothered about it has passed, since the NHL has long declared this particular trick is legit and accepted in the NHL post-game circus.
Sorry if Brodeur doesn't like it, but he couldn't stop the straight five-hole shot from Nielsen either, you know? (Also, it's still okay for him to flash his glove after a save in Patrick Roy look-at-me style, right?)
Assorted Notes and Falsehoods
- The Islanders' power play in overtime came after a mad scramble around the Islanders net put all eight OT skaters jamming for the puck. It popped loose, giving a tired Brock Nelson a breakaway which Martin Brodeur stopped with his blocker, but the Isles maintained pressure and Anders Lee eventually drew the tripping penalty by Jon Merrill.
- Thomas Hickey continued to impress with his steady play since the injury carnage hit. During the first intermission he said he "love(s) it" playing with Travis Hamonic, noting that it's a very different approach than his usual partner Lubomir Visnovsky.
- Scott Mayfield, too, continues to leave a good impression in his early exposure. It's refreshing to see how he uses his natural size to box guys out in the slot.
- Kevin Czuczman was victimized on the Devils' first goal as Ryan Carter snuck behind him, but the bulk of the blame on the play came with how the entire Isles fivesome was hemmed in for the bulk of the shift.
- On that note, I like Matt Donovan and his peripherals all point to good things, but you also definitely see the "don't do that" things that probably get his leash tightened by the coaches. He'll make great moves on a rush up the ice, but that final pass can be made in a dangerous spot -- which is fine, as long as you incorporate a safety valve, whether in defaulting back or making sure you are covered. He strikes me as too casual with ensuring the safety valve.
- Justin Johnson kept it simple in his NHL debut, just doing the fourth-line chip it out, get it deep thing. He didn't have much other choice, playing with fellow Bridgeport chip-n-chasers Brett Gallant and Mike Halmo.
- There were occasional physical flare-ups with the Devils, especially Ryan Carter, but it was just as often with the Islanders "other" fourth line with Matt Martin, Casey Cizikas and Colin McDonald.
- Anders Nilsson wore the goalie pads.
- What can you say about Ryan Strome? He continues to look increasingly comfortable, including on the wing with Brock Nelson. His wrist shot goal off a toe drag to elude Andy Greene was reminiscent of the junior highlights that get people salivating. (Insert "well it was against a junior goalie" joke here.)
- Since I haven't vocalized my undying devotion in a while, I'll just shock you with this: I really love the way Frans Nielsen plays. Does everything right.
- Great hearing Jiggs again tonight. He and Scott Stevens are second cousins. I learn something new...
Speaking of broadcasters, cheers to ex-Islanders goalie Chico Resch, who is retiring after this season. MSG+2 (twice the plus!) ran a nice pre-recorded interview with him and Howie Rose during the second intermission, talking about his Isles days and how the "Chico" nickname emerged. Rose has told the story about how he interviewed Resch in his first home game when Rose was just a college student, and Chico was always gracious.
Up Next, and Last
The Isles mercy kill this thing Sunday in Buffalo with a 5 p.m. start. Tonight's win ties them with the Flames for 26th, but the Flames have the tiebreaker and
two games left to play [Update: The Flames lost in regulation later in the evening, so each team has one game left.]