When it featured Thomas Vanek, the New York Islanders first line was arguably the most dangerous in the league for a good stretch of the season, though it was still fair to wonder what he brought to the table that his predecessor Matt Moulson did not.
In Elliotte Friedman's 30 Thoughts, a few of his current linemates provide a glimpse into what that certain something (if it's anything at all) is:
15. ... David Desharnais and Max Pacioretty talk about how much they had to adjust their games to play with Thomas Vanek. Desharnais said that when he played with Brendan Gallagher, you had to go support him when the winger got the puck in the corner. Vanek wants the opposite. "The farther we can spread teams out," he said, "The more success we will have." Desharnais also had to get used to carrying the puck less and driving to the net more, because Vanek likes to carry it, too.
16. "I've never seen anyone make the decisions [Vanek] makes," Pacioretty added. "He's basically thinking, 'What do guys think I'm going to do with the puck right now?' and he does the opposite of it." Pacioretty said Vanek is making him re-think how he plays the game.
More Isles Reads
- Matt Donovan has taken over the 11-year-old Bridgeport all-time plus/minus record. [Soundin' Off]
- Do the Isles have a blown-two-goal-lead problem, and can they fix it? [IslandersInsight]
- Apparently ex-Islanders Gang of Four (the owner-crooks, not the awesome band...not the Chinese either) member Stephen Walsh got so rich off fraud that he can affraud, er, afford to "forfeit" $50 million as he faces a sentence of up to 20 years of watching reruns of the 1998-99 New York Islanders. [Newsday]
- Interesting detail from last week: Kevin Poulin had his junior goalie coach come down to Bridgeport during the season's final weeks. [CT Post]
- Griffin Reinhart is happy to be healthy for Edmonton's rematch with Portland in this year's WHL playoffs. [Sun]
Those Other Teams
- Sadly, the awesome chaotic first round of the playoffs is coming to an end. Yesterday saw two more teams, Deja Vu St. Louis and Dallas -- after an evil late comeback and OT win from the Ducks -- bow out in six games. Tonight Columbus, Minnesota and Los Angeles face the same threat.
- Frederik Andersen got yanked (and thew a mini-fit) after looking pretty badly. So even the Ducks can have goalie funks.
- George McPhee will talk to media today. Apparently it was the player exit interviews that confirmed for Ted Leonsis that things needed to be blown up. [CSN]
- A long list of candidates to succeed McPhee in D.C. [CSN]
- Alain Vigneault is a lot calmer than John Tortorella. Rangers players notice. [Post]
- There seems to be confusion over who has pulled their goalie for a sixth attacker earlier than normal before:
Boudreau: "I have to thank Patrick Roy. If he didn’t start pulling the goalie so early all year, I don’t think any of [us] would have."— James Mirtle (@mirtle) April 28, 2014
...but the "thank Roy" thing hints to something at the heart of too many coaching decisions: Fear of getting burned/ridiculed if an "unconventional" tactic doesn't work, even when you know that rationally it's a wise move.
I used to defend Jack Capuano pulling the goalie early as well-founded a tactic...but felt it nearly useless when the Isles so often played as if they hadn't practiced what to do once the sixth guy is out there. That changed some this past season, but so did Capuano's tendency to pull early.