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Whimper in Toronto

You know when your team starts off slow and drops a goal, but catches a fortunate break to tie the game up, and you think, "OK, new game, fresh start, let's start anew from here" -- but then your team just does the same thing and gives the lead away again? That's what it felt like to watch the Islanders last night.

It's not that the Isles were horrible -- just that they never seemed threatening. Didn't have an answer for Toronto's speed and passing. And that's too bad, when you consider the Leafs were a more winnable destination on this four-game road trip than say, Philadelphia (tonight in a back-to-back) or Pittsburgh.

[Game summary | Event summary]

"We didn't establish any forecheck," said Islanders Head Coach Scott Gordon. "As a result, we didn't get going in the early part of the game. We never got our legs underneath us and didn't skate with speed."

Ah well. The perils of a rebuilding year. Josh Bailey, who's losing faceoffs, has looked less visible in recent games. Something to monitor. ... And Nate Thompson -- did they say he left with flu-like symptoms? NOT a good sign for a road trip, but good on Thompson for fighting Hollweg after another 25-stride check from the pornstached ex-Smurf. (It's not that all of Hollweg's hits are dirty -- it's that he lost the benefit of the doubt looooong ago) ... The Isles have dropped 5 of 6 now: blameworthy or not (I say "not really," but he hasn't been sharp), why not give Joey MacDonald a rest? Meanwhile, a couple of links to contemplate:

Isleblogger says it's time for the Gordon System to do a reboot: Either the players are slipping, or something else is undermining Team Overspeed. Whatever the cause, I agree that the passing ain't sharp.

Islanders Outsider -- before the Leafs game, but still relevant -- calls the Isles' bluff on all the happy talk after the Atlanta loss: unsettling but ultimately understandable given the need to survive a rebuilding year.

A few bright spots after the jump.

Good ol' Grey Mike Sillinger got on the board with the slightest of deflections, giving life to a morbid power play. I'm waiting for his surgically repaired arthritic hip to bark again, but I'll enjoy every game he has left (and hope there are more, somewhere, next season).

And Next Hope Blake Comeau looked strong again -- ugly mis-check on Mitchell to create a Leafs 3-on-1 notwithstanding -- adding youthful spark to the Ol' USA '96 line with Bill Guerin and Doug Weight. It's funny how Sean Bergenheim will look great there for a few games and then dissipate. His bad penalty tonight on the White pick was poor but undestandable: picks (followed by dives) should never be given the benefit of the doubt in my Book of Hockey Morality

Guerin was credited with tipping in the first goal, on Freddy Meyer IV's shot. Weight got an assist, bringing his Countdown to 1,000 to 6. He really could get there by Christmas.

Old friend Jason Blake had a banner night -- and you know that made 7th Woman happy. It was the kind of night he'd have in an Islander uniform to earn himself a big fat Leafy contract. Poor choice of opponents to do it to, but it was good to see him in form.

Vesa Toskala, who's had a rough year, revealed the signs of life he's been intermittently showing for the Leafs lately. He made sure there was no sincere Islanders thought of a comeback.

Philly beckons. On Versus. Do the jersey proud, boys.