This 4-1 loss to the Blues struck me as a case of running into a rested, physical team on the second night of back-to-backs.
Things opened up well, and Freddy Meyer and Andy Sutton did their best to send wake-up call hits to Blues forwards like T.J. Oshie. But when the Blues grabbed their first lead late in the second period, they had also ramped up their own physical game -- with big forwards like David Backes, Keith Tkachuk and Cam Janssen reminding the Islanders of their small size at both forward and defense. At that point, it seemed the Islanders ran out of gas, as backchecks got lazy, and the offense fizzled.
A surreal thing about watching two teams who never play each other but who you personally watch all the time: You see things developing before the unfamiliar opponents on the ice do. You want to shout warnings like a parent.
So here's my brain internal narration during the game: "Whoa, Bailey's gonna break in alone and Hunter will hit him!" ... "Look out, Streit, Perron has enough open space to try his -- whoa." ... "Bergenheim and Okposo are going to give and go here, and Weaver won't be ready." ... "Moulson, look out, Berglund will cut back to the middle here and shoot against the grain!"
Admittedly, I didn't foresee Eric Brewer scoring.
Kyle Okposo was a force early (and should have drawn a penalty when he was mauled in the Blues crease, only to see a tacky call on Mark Streit happen seconds later). But by the second half of the game, Okposo's efforts and those of his teammates including John Tavares were pretty ineffective, with all of their comeback attempts coming via harmless shots from the outside. Maybe they weren't gassed, but they looked it.
It was a funny thing with Meyer's and Sutton's big hits (and for Sutton, attempted hit that ended up with him in the Blues bench): They may have backfired. Because the Blues, rather than get run out of their own building, responded by making things difficult for undersized players like Jack Hillen, Bruno Gervais and Josh Bailey.
WebBard posted this at the end of the game thread about the Islanders on back-to-backs:
On the 2nd game of back to back games we’re 2-3-1 with 18 goals for and 21 goals against. Respectable, until you look and [see] we scored 11 of the 18 goals in the two wins. I get the feeling that back to back games are going to be problems throughout the year.
I'll say this, as a guy who was watching this hoping for OT but rooting for an Isles win: I thought the Blues received the benefit of home team officiating on the few calls that were made. That said, another 3-on-5 kill by the Isles was impressive, and I'm glad this game was decided 5-on-5. The Islanders' PP has gotten a little stale the past few games anyway.
I haven't seen anything from Andrew MacDonald to make me take him out of the lineup -- have you? Meanwhile, Jeff Tambellini got under 10 minutes, so it's hard to say yea or nay for his play. Okposo, Tavares, Moulson, Gervais, Hillen, Sutton all ended up minus-2, and tonight I'd say that was a fair reflection.
I don't have too much to say about being there tonight. I watched this one from a perch I've never had: Our friends took us to this game with reservations at one of those face-the-ice restaurant deals, so I watched the game with a plate of food in front of me and my neck permanently turned to my left to see the ice. So i didn't get to scan the building for fellow Islanders jerseys, but I did see two Streits and one Tavares in the section below us (all of them the retro thirds). Our "seats" had a great angle, though. Josh Bailey's goal came right at me, and I saw the daylight he picked to Chris Mason's right. Apparently, when they pimped this restaurant on the Jumbotron, they had a live image of me, in an isles jersey, stuffing my plate at the buffet. That's a first.
I was thinking before the game how it seems like it had been forever since I'd watched the Islanders in St. Louis, and sure enough their last meeting was before the lockout, with Brad Shaw as coach. I don't remember my mental state for that one (a 6-3 Isles win), but both teams were in disarray. Tonight, I found myself rooting for OT while also hoping players I like on each side would take advantage of players who need scratching on the other side.
Inadvertent 'What is their coach doing?' Quote of the Night
From Scott Gordon: "I can't believe (the Blues) are just .500 (8-8-4). That just blows my mind with the talent they have."
Flash just echoed the thoughts of many Blues fans.
This is why the coughed-up game in Minnesota at the start of this back-to-back hurts. Suddenly a very winnable three-game trip against the league's struggling teams becomes a daunting, road-weary challenge. Another regulation loss in Toronto Monday would spell serious trouble, with two very tough Pennsylvania opponents waiting on either side of Thanksgiving.
Finally, I know it hurts, but Perron's second was an incredible goal that will be remembered around the league all year long, so I'm saving it here. From an atmosphere perspective, you felt the oohs and aahs build in the crowd as he gained each zone: